Have you heard the old chestnut that your parents were taught to swim by their parents by simply dropping them into the water. “Sink or swim” they were told. Well, we hope those stories aren’t true, but even if they are, “sink or swim” is merely going to frighten children away from the water.
What we want to do is instill a life long love of water in our children — especially if you have a swimming pool, take vacations where there is a swimmng pool or vacation in spots where there is the chance to swim in a lake or ocean. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to instilling a love of water and swimming in your children.
Keep in mind, if your children don’t enjoy a bath, chances are they will not embrace a dip in the family swimming pool either. Also, even if your child loves his bath, the idea of going into the family swimming pool may scare him to tears. A pool is so much larger and therefore, potentially scarier, for your child than the bathtub is.
Fun Ways To Teach Your Children To Swim
Our children may pick up many of our traits simply through the right of birth and our shared genes, but this doesn’t mean that he or she will love swimming just because you do. You want your children to develop not only a healthy respect for the pool, but to enjoy swimming as well.
How can you teach your children to swim?
- You can teach them yourself
- You can take them to classes
- You can hire an instructor to come to your home and teach them
Many parents find it is easier to have someone else teach their children because children seem to want to learn from a stranger than to listen to their parents, am I right?
It doesn’t matter who teaches your children to swim, just as long as they have immense fun while they’re doing it.
Have a “kicking contest”
Get the family into the swimming pool and have a fun contest!
Grab onto the side of the pool (if the children are small, have an adult hang onto them, too) and kick your legs!
The one who splashes the most is the winner! This is a great way to show your children ghat getting water splashed in their face isn’t something to be afraid of. Make sure you’re laughing and making a big deal of getting splashed to make it seem even more fun!
Short attention spans: Short lessons
Children have short attention spans and because of that, lessons should be short. Don’t keep teaching your child about swimming when he or she is getting cranky. You want to have every interaction in the pool be as fun as it can possibly be!
If your child is tired, the pool won’t be fun and he will just think you’re “forcing” him and he will dread the next time you head toward the pool together.
If you’re enthusiastic about swimming and about wanting to swim with your child, he will pick up on that and will be excited as well!
Ask your doctor when your child can be introduced to the swimming pool and start lessons at that time. The younger your child is when she learns to swim, the better. Children can learn to swim before they’ve learned to walk.
KISS – Keep It Simple Silly
When teaching children to swim, make it as simple as possible. Use single words and have your child repeat what she is doing.
Focus only on one skill at a time. Kicking. Going under water. Holding your breath. Don’t confuse your child.
Always Be Positive
Swimming should always be fun. Use positive reinforcement for a job well done.
Turn On The Tunes
Does your child love a certain soundtrack? If so, let her choose her special music for the swim lessons. Also, you can let your child know, “we’re going to practice swimming until this song is done, then we’re done for the day.” This gives your child an end point they recognize.
Choose A Fun Pool Toy
If your child is able to choose a favorite pool toy he will look forward to being able to play with it after his lessons are done.
Some toys to consider:
- Diving sticks. These sticks are heavy and come in various colors. Drop them into the pool and teach your child to go underwater to retrieve them.
- Flying disk. Give older children a round, flat disk and when they’re learning to float on their backs, ask them to keep the disk on their forehead while they do so. The one who keeps his or her disk on their forehead the longest is the “winner.”
- Multi-colored rubber duckies. If your child loves rubber duckies, toss a few into the pool and let them swim a few strokes to grab some.
- Pool noodles. Pick up different colored and sized pool noodles and let your children play with them, float with them and just have fun splashing around.
- Ping-pong balls. Toss some colored ones in the water and have your children swim to them.
Practice Falling In
Play the “trust” game. when your children are comfortable in the pool, let them jump to you knowing that you will catch them.
Pool Safety Equipment
Regardless of how well your child has mastered the art of swimming, you want to keep life vests and other pool safety equipment always close at hand in the event of an accident or emergency. If your child is getting tired, but doesn’t want to get out of the water, offer him a life vest so he can stay in and be safe while he’s paddling around.
Choose A Bathing Suit & Life Vest
When your children have a say in the bathing suit they will wear during their lessons, they are making a choice and will look forward to wearing it. Also, let them choose the life vest they like the most. Give your child as many options as possible to make swim time more fun and something they’re more involved in.
Do your children love to swim? What were your secrets to getting them to love the water?