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Tips for Helping a Child Overcome a Fear of Water

You might have heard the old saying that it’s better to just quickly pull a bandage off because it’s a few seconds of pain rather than the expanded period of pain that occurs when you peel a bandage off little by little.

Sometimes just jumping all into something makes sense. Other times, it can result in trauma and it, if not dealt with appropriately, can develop into a lifelong fear. A child, who is pushed into the pool by a parent or a well-meaning adult, even though he is afraid, may become fearful of the water. A child, who asks his parent not to let go in the pool and the parent lets go, may not only become afraid of the water – he will likely lose faith and trust in the parent who promised not to let go.

Children who are afraid of water often grow up to be adults who are afraid of water unless their parents are proactive in showing that going in the water can be both safe and fun. When a child learns how to face – and to eventually overcome fears – he gains self-confidence and his self-esteem grows stronger, both essential to success in life.

As a parent, you can help your child overcome whatever fears he may have by being supportive and encouraging.


Here are some great ways to introduce your child to and get him comfortable with the water:

Ask your child why he is afraid of the water. If your child is old enough to talk, ask him why he’s afraid of the water and really listen. Do not dismiss his feelings by saying, “oh, you’re silly,” or “oh come on, it’s no big deal.” Instead, acknowledge his feelings and explain why going in the water can be fun and safe.

Take it slow. Baptism by fire – or in this case, water – isn’t a great idea. Just throwing a child into the water can lead to a lifelong fear of water and, as we already mentioned, your child could stop trusting you.Fear of Water

Introduce your child to the water – ideally in a pool setting – first. Start by showing your child how to dip his feet into the water. Do it with him. Splash your feet so he can feel the water on his skin and he can do the same. Get into the water first then help him in. No matter what you do in the water, go at your child’s pace.

Don’t force it. Forcing your child to get into the water or to go under the water can make that fear even more powerful. If it takes half the summer to get your child all the way into the pool, so be it. Forcing him to go into the water when he’s not ready will make things harder in the long run. 

Make it fun. So much fun happens in the water. Kids go swimming. They do acrobats in pools. They play water volleyball. Emphasize how much fun your child will have if he learns how to swim. Make getting into the water a fun and a playful time. And, offer plenty of praise for every milestone your child accomplishes – from getting his feet in the water for the first time to the first time he dives in the water.

Keep your promises. If you tell your child you won’t dunk him under water, don’t dunk him under water. Failure to keep your promises can add more fuel to the fear and can damage your relationship with your child. Think about a time when someone lost your trust. How long did it take you to trust that person again?

Sign up for swimming classes. Sometimes the best way to help your child overcome his fear of water and learn how to swim is to sign up for a swimming class, taught by a swimmer who is experienced in dealing with people who are afraid of the water.

Don’t give up. No matter how long it takes or how frustrating it may be at times, don’t give up. It’s important for your child to overcome his fear of the water – and to learn how to swim – so he gains that self-confidence and self-esteem. But, just as important, your child’s ability to swim could one day mean the difference between life and death.

In 2013, 291 Australians drowned in the country’s waterways. Of those deaths, 23 percent were young children and teens between the ages of zero and 14 years. Eleven percent of the 23 percent of the drowning deaths were children between zero and four years of age.

Fly and Be Free: Fear of Water shares the story of Bella, a young girl who is going hang gliding for the first time. She’s afraid just as your child may be afraid to go into the water. Whatever your child’s fear, this interactive Ebook will help him to overcome that fear and to dream of swimming, over and over again at night. This was the 2nd Story ever written by the creator and Author of the Meta4Kids stories and was the most emotional and rewarding… with brilliant results.

To order the story  Fly and be Free ad download it now click here.
1 Comment | Add your own
Hi Stuart,
You mention take it slow above. We had been to swimming lessons since 5months old and my son is nearly 5. I was giving up hope until I read him 'Fly and be free'. I feel it has worked for my child. His swimming teacher is astounded by his progress. He is now putting his head under and duck diving for coins. He still hesitates to kick and float freely but as you say, step by step. The steps are getting bigger now he is gaining confidence.
Milly at 9:00pm 3rd Feb 2015
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