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Raising Water-Confident Kids



Water safety, especially in the Chesapeake area, is immeasurably important. But how do you teach your child to swim? And how do you teach your child to swim when your child is afraid of water?

Are there strategies to make your child less scared of the water? There are easy ways to teach your child who’s scared of the water to be more water-confident.

When my daughter, Leah, was six, I signed her up for a month’s worth of swim lessons, every day for half an hour, because, well, it worked for another mom’s kids. This mom had told me her kids’ skills didn’t progress until the third week, and a four-week block was the only way to go. Leah had taken lessons in previous summers with little obvious success, and I fell for the mom’s advice.

What I didn’t account for was my daughter’s persistent (read: stubborn) temperament or her willingness to wage silent battle by simply not getting into the pool. Oh, some days she did, when the planets were aligned, but other mornings she sat on a deck chair and watched her toddler brother dabble with the perky swim teachers. Even when she did get in the pool, Leah steadfastly refused to dunk. Indeed, she didn’t dunk until a year later while in a hotel pool during a summer vacation. The key? It was her own idea.

Swim lessons often feel non-negotiable to parents because we care about our children’s safety. And there’s that pesky idea that because all our friends’ kids love swimming, ours should, too. But not all kids take to water like dolphins.

First step: relax. Then keep in mind the following tips for developing water confidence in youngsters, even the most reluctant, and chances are you’ll avoid poolside battles.

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