By Mark Collins from JUMP! Swim Schools

A fear of water is far more common than many parents realise and often it’s only when you show up to your first swimming lesson that the fear even becomes apparent.

A child’s fear around water can range from a general dislike of getting wet or putting their head under to very intense fears about entering the water.

Sometimes the fear can relate to specific types of water – so while they may be fine at bath-time and the beach, the fear may kick in specifically around swimming pools and deeper water.

What are the causes?

The causes can be many including parents passing down a fear of water unintentionally or a traumatic experience around water – and often there is no obvious reason why the fear developed.

It can be a difficult, tiring and challenging situation for parents to manage, especially in the more extreme cases. It can be tempting to throw in the towel and not persist with swimming lessons or postpone addressing the issue, thinking the child will outgrow the fear or that it may be easy to tackle when they’re older.

Often there is no reason why a child develops a fear of the water. (Image: Instagram/jumpswimschools)

Face the fear, as early as possible

The thing is, a fear of water doesn’t usual disappear by itself or improve over time without professional guidance, so, if you can, it’s best to address it as early as possible and persevere through the initial hurdles.

It’s important to find the right swim teacher to help support you and your child through managing and getting past the fear as they do play a big role in developing your child’s confidence and trust.

In addition to a great teacher, parents also play a really important role in helping children work through their fear and ensuring they feel comfortable enough to take new steps.

Parents, follow these helpful tips

  • Stay positive and relaxed around water. Sometimes easier said than done! But the more you can do this, the less stressful the situation is for your child as they’re very sensitive to your reactions and cues.
  • Make trips to the swimming pool and other water-orientated locations as fun as possible so you start to develop that positive association. This includes how you talk about heading to the pool before you leave home (to build excitement), playing their favourite music in the car and having things like fun snacks ready for after the lesson.

Stay positive and relaxed around water and the less stressful it will be for your child. (Image: Instagram/jumpswimschools)

  • Stay close around water. Depending on the age of the child, you may or may not have to be in the water with them. But regardless, stay close. Don’t leave the pool area to duck to reception or the bathroom, even if there are other trusted adults to watch your child. Your child needs to maintain a line of sight with you to feel safe.
  • Arrive to lessons or water-based playdates early so it’s not rushed. This also allows some time for your child to adjust to the water environment before having to get in.
  • Consider the pool environment. Extra noise and stimulus can sometimes add to the stress of both parent and child. It may be worth considering attending lessons at quieter pool times or seeking out a smaller facility with a smaller class size.

For more information head to Jump! Swim Schools