Friday 15 December 2017

Helping your Little One Overcome their Fear of Water

Tips to help your child overcome their fear of water
Water image, thanks to Shutterstock

Does your child have an unprecedented and completely unexplained fear of water? Whether it’s bath time that puts fear into your child or the very idea of swimming, when your child has developed a phobia it can be debilitating for the both of you.

But don’t despair, there are ways that you can help your child face their fear – without them even realising it! Here you’ll find a few tips of what might help.

Bathroom tips
Think about what is the cause of the fear. Is the bath too large and empty? Is the bath too crowded and full of toys? Is the bath uncomfortable and slippery so your child is worried about hurting themselves? Check out this website if you’re looking for a new bathroom suite that’s kid friendly.

Once you have figured out what his/her fear or fears are, find creative ways to help them overcome their fear(s). One way to help your child overcome their fears is to make the water more enticing -

  1. Try purchasing special toys that are just for use in the bath. 
  2. Fill the bath with bubbles or change the colour of the water with special water colour tablets.  
  3. If your child is afraid of getting into a full tub, try putting your child into the bathtub and then filling the tub with water. Let him/her turn on the water faucet so that they feel like they can control the situation.
  4. Have you heard of Bath jelly? It's so much fun and sure to help your little one want to bathe.
  5. Or why not get in with them!
If your child is afraid of the drain – and worried they might get sucked away like the water, then remove them from the bath before you pull the plug. You can also then show them that the plug is much too small to drain them away, and demonstrate this with some of their toys or your hands.

It’s important to always be patient and never play down your child’s fears, no matter how frustrating they can be. Or how worried you are that they’re missing out on all the fun. First start with sitting with their feet in the water. When your child does it, even for a few seconds, make a huge deal and give positive reinforcement. 

When they are comfortable with just their feet in, ask them to go a little further and maybe make some swooshing or splashing with their hands. Of course remain close by them at all times as there probably isn't a quick fix to help them past their phobia and it will require a lot of effort on your part.

Floats and safety
Water wings, kick boards, inner tubes, life jackets…there are numerous floating products that may make your child feel more comfortable in the water. One that we found really useful when our children were young were the shark fins that you can strap to their backs and they just can't go under the water with these.

There are so many fun products to use in the pool too, like floating balls you can blow along the surface of once they are braver, rings or stick you have to duck under the water for. These can provide a great source of entertainment when you’re in the water with your child!

Wet faces
Many children specifically dislike getting their faces wet. Tactics to try in this scenario include well-fitting goggles or face masks, or even encouraging them to blow bubbles in a bowl or sink in the bathroom. Just try to get them used to water going over their head.

Swimming lessons
If all else fails, or you’re worried that you’re making matters worse, then call in the professionals! It may take a while and it’s certainly no shortcut, but if it helps your child gain confidence then it’ll be worth it. I personally think swimming is one of the most important life skills a child can learn.

Of course it will take some time and effort on your part to help your child get past their fear of water but it can be done, you just need to be patient and persevere. Good luck!

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Tips to help your child overcome their fear of water

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