Health & Wellness Child Developement
How to get rid of your child’s fear of water
Hydrophobia or fear of water is a common phenomenon that can be overcome with the right training and techniques
While a majority of children love playing in the water, there are some that are too scared to have water on or around them. While they may be ready to dangle their feet in the pool and splash around in puddles, the thought of getting into a swimming pool might make them cry.
This fear, also known as hydrophobia, needs to be addressed patiently. Oftentimes, it is actually the fear of not being able to see, hear or breathe properly underwater that can cause tremendous anxiety and often turn the child away from immersing their face in water and learning how to swim.
What causes hydrophobia?
The genesis of the fear of water can usually be attributed to a traumatic event involving water that your child experienced or heard of, like someone pushing them into the water when they weren't ready, or a near-drowning incident. Even if they haven't experienced any water trauma, kids do develop an instinctive fear of drowning after the age of 6 months. There are some swimming classes that take in kids as young as 6 months old in order to get babies comfortable with being around water and not allow this fear to grow. It's also entirely possible that a child's fear of water might just have to do with their over-active imagination, as they might be imagining what kind of monsters are lurking below the surface of the pool.
How to address the fear?
Taking care of young minds can be a challenging task. First and foremost, understand and respect the fear of your child. Building your child's confidence is the primary corrective measure that you can begin with. Demonstrate to your child how you interact safely with water with activities such as:
- Start in a small environment, like a bathtub
- Let them wash their hands and face in the water
- Teach them how to blow bubbles in the bath water. While this may require patience, this will slowly get them comfortable with having their face partially in the water
When they're ready to get into a bigger body of water like a swimming complex, you can ease the fear by:
- Wading in the shallow pool
- Using floaties to support them in the water
- Making sure they have well-fitting goggles to block water out of their eyes or a swimming cap to block water out of their ears
- Teaching them strokes that keep their face above water (e.g. backstroke, doggy paddle, treading water)
Progress using small steps is the key to remove fear in this scenario.
In addition, focusing on the fun element rather than the fear will help your child overcome their anxieties faster. Play games and create scenarios that make them use their imagination. However, its extremely necessary not to pressure the next step. Instead, giving your child an opportunity to choose what their next step will be can turn out to be an empowering experience for them.
Praise and reward milestones
Set small and achievable targets for your child and appraise them with rewards on achieving them. This will give them the encouragement to try overcoming their fear of water and try even harder. It is important for you to be patient with your child to deal with hydrophobia. If you don't have the required time, it would be better to take professional help of a reputable swimming instructor.
To sum it up
Once your child has understood that their fear of water is overblown, they can start to enjoy their stay in the water and also make them want to become a better swimmer. The key to bring about this change is understanding, patience and perseverance.
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