Learning to swim is an essential skill, but it isn’t always easy to learn. If your child has a fear of swimming whether due to a traumatic experience or anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help ease this process for them.

How to get over fear of swimming pools? The most important place to begin, is understating the extreme fear and taking the right steps to ensure your child is feeling comfortable. Let’s dive in.

Toddlers in a swimming pool

Understand the Fear

Take the time to understand what is behind your child’s fear of swimming pools. Was there a specific fear-inducing incident that triggered this fear? Is it a general fear of water or a fear of not being able to control the situation? Understanding the underlying cause will guide your approach in addressing the fear effectively.

Encourage open communication with your child about their feelings. Listen attentively without judgement and validate their emotions. This helps build trust and shows your support in overcoming their fear.

If the fear is severe or stems from a traumatic experience, consider seeking guidance from a child psychologist or a skilled swim coach experienced in working with nervous swimmers.

Focus on Maintaining Confidence

Ensure that the swimming environment feels safe and comfortable for your child. Choose a familiar and calm location for lessons and be mindful of their comfort level in the water. Stick to shallow water where your child can see the bottom of the water easily.

Talking through the anxiety around their fear of water and swimming pools can help. Use positive language when talking about swimming. Avoid phrases that heighten anxiety and instead focus on the fun and excitement of learning a new skill.

Encouraging Swimming Tips

Gradual exposure is a technique often used in exposure therapy to help individuals overcome fears or phobias. In the context of swimming, gradual exposure means introducing water-related activities in a step-by-step manner to desensitise your child to their fear and build confidence over time.

Moving forward with your child’s fear of swimming lessons, you can begin by engaging in water play activities outside of formal swimming lessons. This could include playing with water toys in a shallow pool or splashing around in a bathtub.

Offer Positive Reinforcement

Acknowledge and celebrate every small achievement your child makes in the water. Whether it’s floating for a few seconds or putting their face in the water, positive reinforcement boosts confidence and motivation.

Never force your child into activities that trigger intense fear. Instead, encourage them gently and allow them to move at their own pace.

Use Visualisation Techniques

Visualisation techniques can be a great distraction for your child, helping them to remain calm while they are in the water. For new swimmers you can encourage them to breathe deeply by imaging a cake in front of them. Get them to breathe in with a deep breath and slowly breathe out, blowing out all the candles. Ask them what the cake looks like and what flavour they would want it to be, using this visualisation as a distraction.

For children of a young age, using their favourite water-safe toys can also help. Having a fun play session or making up a game with floating toys can be a great way to boost water confidence.

To create a safe environment around the swimming pool area, you can utilise music as a relaxation tool. Sing to their favourite songs from a tv show or kids movie or use soothing music that has a meditative feel.

Stay Patient and Persistent

Be patient with your child’s progress. Consistency is key to building confidence over time. Avoid rushing the process and offer continuous encouragement.

remember to maintain a calm and composed demeanour during swimming activities. Your child will mirror your emotions, so stay positive and reassuring. When your child sees that you are feeling comfortable in the water, it can help them acclimate and mirror your water confidence.

Set Achievable Goals

Baby steps are the key to reducing the chance of a panic attack and turning your child into a confident swimmer. Break down the swimming journey into manageable goals. Start with simple tasks like blowing bubbles in the water or kicking with a float. As your child achieves each goal, gradually increase the challenge.

Celebrate each milestone reached. This reinforces a positive association with swimming and encourages further progress. Create a sticker chart with your child or a calendar where they can see how far they have come and get rewarded with something for each milestone.

Find a Swimming Instructor Near You

Helping a nervous swimmer gain confidence requires empathy, patience, and consistent encouragement. Remember, progress may be gradual, but every step towards overcoming fear is a significant achievement. With your unwavering support and positive guidance, your child can develop the confidence they need to enjoy the water safely and confidently.

Does your child have a fear of swimming pools? Take the next step towards helping your child overcome fear by booking in a learn to swim lesson. Search for certified swim instructors in your area and enrol your child in swimming lessons to unlock their potential in the water.