Why is my child so afraid of the water?
Some children believe that the pool is a dangerous place to play in, despite seeing his peers enjoying themselves in the water playground. Ironic as it may seem, the best way to help your child overcome his fear of water is to encourage him to learn swimming. Here are some ways to help make the learning process less intimidating.
There can be no apparent reason for a child to be afraid of water. Some children adopt this fear from aquaphobic parents. Others may have experienced a traumatic accident with water, such as nearly drowning or having witnessed a water-related accident. Sometimes the reasons that your child is afraid of water may not be obvious and it may just be due to a natural hesitance against it.
Some parents try to get their toddlers to learn swimming at an early age or let them waddle in shallow water, before they pick up external cues that induce a sense of fear towards water.
Slow and steady wins the race
When introducing your child to the water, there is no advantage in rushing him or her. Encourage him to approach the pool and let him know that you are around to help him. The objective is to get your child to be comfortable with being in the pool. If he prefers to keep a distance, let him be but encourage him to take a step closer.
Praise each advancement and highlight to your child that the pool is not as scary as it seems. Get him to kick or splash the water. Try to make it a positive experience as possible and if he shows any resistance, try not to impose on him if he doesn’t want to.
Be a Model
Young children learn best through modeling, especially if the behavior is carried out by their parents. Some children are also afraid of water because their parents are too. Show your child how much you are enjoying yourself in the pool and tell him that you hope he can play with you in the water as well. The family can play in a shallow pool to build your child’s confidence of being in the water.
Reward Every Milestone
Set short, achievable goals for your child and reward your child for his willingness to explore. For example, tell you child that if he wades around in the pool, you will buy him a new toy on your way home. When you hand him the toy, remind him that you are rewarding him because he was willing to try and wade around the pool earlier. This will encourage him to associate his adventurousness in the water with a positive outcome.
Patience is key when helping your child to overcome the fear of water. If time is not available for you, there are swimming instructors who are able to handle children with aquaphobia. Ask a swimming instructor about the programmes available and their expertise may help your child to overcome his fear of water more effectively.
Generally the fear of water is not a big concern, but if there are strong aversions and resistance towards the water, seeking professional help may uncover underlying anxiety issues.