The pools are OPEN! After a very long, very crazy year, it’s time to break out the swim suits and dive toys and head to the neighborhood pool. For many kids, it may be the first time swimming since the pandemic began, and for others, it may be the first time taking lessons again after a long hiatus.
Whatever your situation, you may find your kids a little nervous or self-conscious when they first get back in the water. While it’s always important that kids aren’t TOO confident around water, it’s also important they aren’t afraid of water, either. We’ve got a few ideas to help get them back on track in no time!
Here are 4 tips to build confidence in your swimmer!
- Repetition. Repetition is often the key to calming nerves in a new or stressful situation. If you have a presentation to give, you practice running through it a few times beforehand. If you play soccer, you practice drills and footwork so you’re ready for games. Swimming is the same way! In order to feel confident in your swim skills, practice! Let your kids start slowly and build proficiency in a stroke or skill. By helping them practice their skills (whether it’s blowing bubbles, learning “scoops” or building speed), they will feel more confident each time they do them. Even if it’s something they’ve done easily in the past, they may need time to “relearn” it this summer. Give them the space and encouragement to practice and they will be excited to show you what they’ve learned!
- FUN. One of the biggest tips to getting your child comfortable in the water is to make it enjoyable. With younger kids, this can start in the bathtub with bubbles or water toys. Gently sprinkle water on a toddler’s head, or give them goggles so they can see under the bubbles. Play is equally important for older children. Start in the shallow section of the pool and pass a ball back and forth. Play water tag or see if they want to try a handstand or “tea party” underwater. By encouraging kids to find enjoyment in the water, they will feel more secure and confident in trying new things. Slowly build on the “fun” and encourage them to try swim lessons or a new stroke when they are ready.
- Skill Building. Kids love to feel proud of themselves and their accomplishments. Learning new skills and practicing what they’ve learned for a parent is a great way to build their confidence. If you’ve taken time off from swim lessons because of the pandemic, now might be the perfect time to get back into classes and relearn some old skills. If group lessons aren’t in the cards for your family quite yet, you could look into a private lesson (available at SwimWest) or work with your child on your own. The more skills your child masters, the more confident they will feel in the pool.
- Safety. Teaching safety skills is a critical part of parenting, and with drowning as a leading cause of accidental death in children, it’s also a crucial part of learning to be in and near water. Building confidence in your swimmer should always include lessons on safety and the importance of learning to swim. Yes, water is FUN! Yes, cooling off in the pool on a hot summer day is wonderful! But water is also dangerous, and teaching children rules will help them stay safe. One of the biggest safety tips for parents is to make sure someone is always watching when children are in the water – even if you feel like they are excellent swimmers. “Water Watchers” help children feel secure in the water, and give parents the opportunity to watch their children grow as swimmers.