Teaching your child how to swim is never easy. Most parents give their child swimming lessons at a fairly young age, and it is usually a miracle if you get through the first one without pulling your hair out. Young children are known to be annoying, impatient, and absolute pains in the neck when it comes to learning anything complicated. Naturally all children vary, but if you are saddled with a temperamental toddler and you want to make sure they learn how to swim this summer, be sure to consider some of these helpful tips for teaching your child how to swim!
1. Patience is Key
There are tons of sayings these days that excuse parents for not showing patience with their child, like “only doctors have patience,” and “patience is a virtue.” And while some of the time these sayings are cute and witty, when it comes to teaching your child how to swim they need to be completely forgotten. The best way to teach your child anything new is to show as much patience as you possibly can, and do not overreact or get testy yourself when you child looks to you for help. Everyone has different learning styles, patterns and speeds, so stay patient when teaching your child how to swim. And don’t forget, having patience when it seems really hard is usually when it is most important.
2. Floaties Are Your Friends
Every child reacts differently to the idea of wearing floaties, so consider yourself lucky if your little one is excited to put these puffy orange pillows on their arms. But more importantly, wearing floaties, or even a life vest, can end up saving your child from drowning one day if they are really struggling with learning how to swim. So even if you have to fight to keep your child still and get them on, make sure they are there and secure. Floats are crucial especially when you first start teaching your child how to swim, because obviously that is usually when your child needs them the most. So don’t overestimate their abilities, it is always better to be safe than sorry!
3. Do Not Work Alone
Whether you are single parent, or you just choose to begin teaching your child how to swim by yourself, I strongly recommend reaching out to someone else to help you. Even if you are used to taking care of your child by yourself, once you get in the water things can get a bit tricky, so it’s always better to have another swimmer there to assist you. Never be ashamed to ask neighboring mothers or close family members for help. Chances are you child will end up learning much quicker with two different teaching styles than just one. Plus you can never go wrong with another pair of eyes making sure everything is going as smoothly as possible.
4. Safety First
This one sounds like a no-brainer but you would not believe how many parents do not think about the dangerous things that could potentially occur when teaching your child how to swim if you are careless. Always make sure you take all the precautions necessary, including making sure you have plenty of space in the pool or ocean, making sure your child stays hydrated and, most importantly, healthy. Plan for a day with good weather and remember to be aware of the dangers of drowning, broken bones and cracked skulls. Knowing standard CPR or having someone close by who does is definitely helpful.
5. Breathing Exercises
One of the first steps to go through when teaching your child how to swim is making sure they know how to breathe underwater. The best way to go about this is through the traditional counting method. Basically watch your child “blow bubbles” underwater and count to five as they hold on to you or the pool wall. Mastering this technique is crucial before moving on; the last thing you would want to happen is to see your child potentially suffocate themselves while trying to swim because they could not figure out how to breathe underwater correctly.
6. Pool Toys
Some people think adding pool toys like noodle floats or life savers to the mix can be distracting, but if you are really having a hard time with teaching your child how to swim, pool toys can be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Sometimes it can get really discouraging for both you and your child when you first begin and they are not mastering everything you teach them right away. But you do not want your child to get turned off from swimming or fearful of the whole idea altogether. So the best way to ensure that this does not happen is to add a few pool toys so your child can associate swimming with having fun and staying active in the summer.
7. Seek Professional Help
Last but not least, if teaching your child how to swim on your own seems near impossible, do not give up altogether. Consider investing in some professional swimming lessons at your local community center. Many young adults who were successful swimming athletes in high school, college, or beyond, offer reasonably priced swimming lessons or even classes for young children learning how to swim. These classes may not be necessary if you can teach your child yourself, but if you are also on a tight work schedule and you want your child to learn how to swim, consider enrolling them in some lessons, they will definitely be worth it in the long run.
Have you ever had a really hard time teaching your child how to swim? Can you think of any tips I left out? What tips would you suggest to other parents looking to teach their child how to swim? Feel free to share your experiences!