Swimming is more than just a leisure activity; it’s a crucial safety skill and a preventative measure against drowning. Let’s review some tips to assist your child in learning to swim, transforming it from a daunting task into an enjoyable experience. The goal is to ensure that your child feels comfortable and safe in the water.

Making Swimming Fun

Children learn best through play. Hence, the most effective way to teach a child to swim is to make it enjoyable. The primary goal should be to ensure the child feels comfortable in the water and doesn’t fear it. Fear causes tension, which hinders muscle function and accelerates breathing, making it challenging to teach a child who is afraid of water to swim.

Conversely, if a child has been exposed to the pool as a baby, it will be easier for them to learn to swim when the time comes. Starting at six months of age, it is recommended that you attend the pool with your baby, either independently or by participating in aquatic stimulation classes led by professionals. Once the children are already familiar with water and enjoy it, it’s time to start working on the rest of the content that will allow them to first be autonomous and, later, to start introducing themselves to the different swimming techniques.

Understanding Your Child

Every child is unique, so it’s important to understand your child’s nature. If your child prefers to observe before experiencing something for themselves, this is the perfect opportunity to sit on the edge of the pool together and watch the other children play. If, on the other hand, the child likes to get involved immediately, you can try bringing them closer to the water.

It’s crucial not to force the child into the pool if they don’t want to. You can encourage and instill confidence, but under no circumstances should we force it because we run the risk of turning contact with water into a traumatic event. We must always follow their pace.

Familiarising with Water

Insert 4th paragraph. It’s beneficial to start by letting the child see other children swimming and enjoying the pool. It’s normal for them to cry or complain at first, but if after a few minutes, they haven’t stopped crying, it’s better to let them get out of the pool and see the adults inside to try to attract them by playing with toys that float in the water. If after four sessions the child continues crying, it’s better to take a break and return after about six months. However, it’s not advisable to let too much time pass. Ideally, it’s important to teach your child to swim before they turn six years old.

Teaching Breathing Techniques

Once babies are fully familiar with water, the first thing we must teach them is breathing. Swimming experts recommend:

  • Pouring water over our heads with a bucket or watering can
  • If the child approaches their mouth to the water, observe but do not prevent them from doing so. This way, the progressive covering of the respiratory tract will work voluntarily.
  • Making bubbles. With the mouth and with the nose. A possible game is to try to push a doll with bubbles.
  • Carrying out small dives, at a shallow depth, without abruptness making the glottis stimulus work. It’s recommended to do this type of diving only if you have previously participated in classes led by professionals, or after advice.
  • Diving and trying to pick up objects from the bottom.

Discovering Flotation

The child should discover flotation through dives and movements. Gradually, they will understand the concept of floating in an enjoyable way, realizing that water pushes them upwards and doesn’t cause them to sink.

Patience is Key

Remember, there’s no need to rush. A child takes time to learn anything. They need to overcome fear, learn to balance in the water, float, breathe, and move. These skills can’t be mastered overnight.

Conclusion: The Lifelong Gift of Swimming

Teaching your child to swim is a journey that extends beyond the mere act of swimming. It’s about instilling a sense of safety, fostering a love for water, and creating countless joyous moments. Remember, every child learns at their own pace, and the key is to make the process enjoyable and fear-free.

In the end, the ability to swim is not just a life skill, but a lifelong gift that opens a world of opportunities for exploration, adventure, and fun. So, dive in, make a splash, and embark on this exciting journey with your child. Always remember, safety comes first, so never leave your child unattended in the water. Happy swimming!

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This article was written by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa

Luzmery Child Psychologist Storyberries

Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.