Swimming is one of the best sports around for overall fitness, and can be a source of lots of fun as a kid playing in pools with friends and swimming in the ocean or lakes on vacation. However, it can also be quite intimidating for young children who don’t know how to swim yet. If you want your child to feel happy and confident in the water and get a head start on learning to swim so they’ll get the most out of swimming lessons when they get them at school, then here are a few ways to encourage a love of swimming.
Be Enthusiastic About Getting in The Water Yourself
Kids learn so much about what is appealing and unappealing from how we react to things, and so if they see that you don’t really like putting on your best bandeau swimsuit and getting in the water then they’ll think there must be a reason why. They will get the wrong idea even if you don’t swim much because of more ‘grown up’ reasons like not liking how you look in your bathing suit, so you need to make sure you act as excited about swimming as you want them to be.Photo by Roderick Elme
If you are always by the side of the pool reading when you are on a family vacation instead of diving in, equally, kids will think you don’t like swimming and equate it to there being a good reason they can understand, like you being afraid or the water being too cold, even if really you are just a bit tired or don’t want to get chlorine in your hair! For this reason, abandon any of the ideas you have about why you may not always want to be swimming when there is the option, and be the first in the water! This will show your kids it is exciting, fun, and not scary, and they’ll want to join you.
Use Fun Swimming Aids
Even kids who can swim already find being in the pool more fun when they have inflatables, floats and pool noodles to play with and clamber on, and younger children feel much safer with rings or water wings in cute, fun designs. While these may serve a similar purpose to training wheels on a bike, they can also be toys in their own right and so letting your kids choose swimming aids they like and allowing them to have fun splashing around and playing with them instead of always trying to get them to focus on ‘swimming properly’ will encourage them to love their time in the water.
One of the things a lot of people don’t like about swimming, whether it is in chlorinated or sea water, is when water gets in their eyes. It can sting and really hurt, especially when you’re not used to it, so let your kids use goggles or even a snorkeling mask at first and for as long as they want. This not only protects their eyes but also means they can see underwater, which will make them feel much more secure when learning to swim. In the ocean, it also means they can see what is under the surface, which will make them less nervous about fish and seaweed that might touch them.
Find a Place with Different Pools
Many public pools and leisure centers have several different pools, for instance a warmer, very shallow one for babies and toddlers to go in with their parents, a middle one for kids who are gaining confidence, and a cold, deep one for experienced swimmers and adults who want to practice lengths or diving for fitness. Some also have a ‘fun pool’ with slides and toys and things like a wave machine. Finding a place with different options like these can show your kids a kind of progression as they move from the safest pools up to the deeper, more grown up ones, and also means if you have kids of different ages they all get a chance to swim and play within their limits. Fun pools and slides can always be a reward for finding confidence in the water.
By being involved in your child’s early experiences in the water and making swimming as comfortable and fun as possible, you can help your child get over any fears they may have and become happy and excited about improving at swimming. Of course, this can also be an opportunity to swim more and get a little fitter yourself, too!