Many children become anxious about being splashed or putting their face in water. Much of this anxiety has to do with confidence and you can build this up yourselves at home.
If your child is nervous of water, don’t worry – they’re not the first and it’s a very natural reaction. Developing water confidence can be fun and it’s something you should enjoy together.
Commit to playing in water regularly and practice with lots of games and, in time, your child will associate water with a positive sense of fun.
Focus on your smile
First things first, put your own anxieties to one side and focus on your smile! Children follow your example and as you know, your child will look to you to see what to do next.
Laugh or cry, your reaction will affect their response – so lots of smiles and congratulations! If children are unexpectedly splashed, it will take just milliseconds to choose whether they are going to cry or not. A quick move on your part, and a change of direction: a toy or activity and lots of positive reinforcement, will redirect their focus.
Children need to feel safe and discover the water for themselves. Their apprehension is healthy so don’t force an activity if you sense any fear or tension. Instead, develop their interest by having fun yourself! Your child will (eventually!) follow your lead.
With each little success they will realise they are capable of achieving much more. Praise, giggle or make a fool of yourself to get them laughing!
Bath time games to build water confidence:
If you’re just starting out, or let’s say you want to reinforce the activities learnt during your swimming lesson, bath time is a great place to start building confidence.
Your child is in a familiar place where they feel safe, plus the water is nice and warm.
a. With soap: rub a bar of soap into your hands, create a triangle
with your thumbs and index fingers and blow – how big a bubble can you make?
b. Making bubbles in the bath water – blowing out into the water and making lots of silly noises!
2.Pouring water over the head – a series of games:
a. Pouring water over your hand – catching the water, then opening fingers and letting it go (where did it go?)
b. Pour water over their elbow
c. …then shoulder,
d. …then I’m afraid the next step is for your child to pour water over your head first as this is loads more fun for them
e. Progress from pouring water over parent’s head to child’s – better for them to pour water over their own head if they’re willing, rather than the parent doing the pouring.
3. From crocodiles to submarines!
– Submerging under the water up to the eyes and then full submersion in the bathtub.