Turns out Dillon has suddenly developed a fear of the water – bathtime and swimming!
This morning I took Dillon for his first swimming lesson at the local leisure centre.
We arrived changed and ready for the lesson ten minutes early and sat by the pool. I figured that gives him enough time to take in the new surroundings and watch the babies in the class before laughing and splashing about in the water.
Ready and warmed up before the class, as soon as we got in the pool Dillon held on to me for dear life. He wouldn’t let go of me, cried if I tried to put him in his swim position (in lessons before Christmas in a different venue he was more comfortable in the water and would happily splash about).
Luckily there was only one other baby in the class with us, so Dillon received a lot of the instructors attention. No amount of cuddles, toys or songs would make him smile today.
Dillon’s fear of swimming also coincides with him refusing to sit in the bath lately.
It’s back to baby steps in the water for us. How can you help a child overcome their fear of the water?
- If you can, try to think back to when and if an event caused your child’s fear, such as slipping in the bath or a big splash of water in their face
- Try not to make a big deal of their fear of the bath
- Make bathtime fun with lots of songs and toys
- Try sharing a bath with your baby and play games with toys and read books so your child starts to feel safe again in the bath
- Lots of positive enforcement. Praise your child in the bath when they are playing or you are able to wash their hair without them crying. Eventually they will develop a positive association with the bath following repetitive praise
Simple steps to help your child overcome a fear of the swimming pool:
- Don’t force your child to swim if they don’t want to. You don’t want to make a fear worse
- Try small steps such as sitting with their feet in the water, and don’t forget to praise them so they begin to associate the pool as a positive
- Once your child is comfortable with their feet in the water, try holding them further in the water slowly until they are comfortable being shoulder deep
- Visit the pool a few times (not swimming) so your child becomes familiar with their surroundings
- Once you’ve reach this stage, try playing a few games such as blowing bubbles in the water. Dillon likes to sit on the edge of the pool when I sing Humpty Dumpty to his – he usually loves splashing the water when Humpty has a great fall
- A fully qualified swimming instructor should have some useful advice to help ease your child into the pool
- It may take a while for your child to feel comfortable in the swimming pool. Stay persistent and slowly that routine and confidence will come
These are the steps I will be taking with Dillon for the next few weeks until he is back to feeling confident in the water again. Time to invest in some more fun water toys for us!