Helping Kids Afraid of Water

How to help children who are afraid of water

Do you know any children who are afraid of water? I certainly do. Both my kids now love the water, but that wasn’t always the case. I remember having to spend a lot of time coaxing Zoe into the waves at the beach one year.

Rather than getting frustrated, I put myself in her shoes. The ocean is something she could not control and she was nervous after being knocked over. Even at the swimming pool she wasn’t too keen on getting wet. So, I took a step back and did a bit of research into ways I could help her be less afraid of water.

Top Reasons Why Kids Are Afraid of Water

Summertime is when we want to spend time at the beach, the pools or down at the river. Yet having a child who is afraid of water limits the activities a family can do together.

As a parent, you start off having plenty of empathy for a water hating child. But as time goes on, you become frustrated that despite all your efforts, they still refuse to stop screaming in the pool. Why?

Understanding why they may dislike the water is a great place to start finding out why and begin to find a solution. Here are the top 9 reasons why some children dislike the water:

  • Water is too cold
  • Pool is too noisy
  • Too much splashing
  • Loss of control
  • Water tastes horrible
  • Active imagination
  • Separation from parent
  • Negative past experiences
  • Dislike of water in eyes

How to Encourage a Reluctant Swimmer into the Water

Have you heard the story about the father who thought the best way to get his son swimming was to throw him in and let him learn for himself? His idea was that his son would get over his fear of water quickly once he learnt he could ‘save’ himself. Not only is this a horrible theory, but it is incredibly dangerous too! Showing empathy and patience are far better ways of reducing a child’s fear of water, as well as:

  • Take their fear seriously. Don’t mock or tease them for being scared.
  • Reassure your child they are safe and you will look after them.
  • Read books and tell stories about children who also disliked water and overcame it.
  • Give heaps of praise for even the smallest steps or attempts to do something in water.
  • Break water experiences into little steps, mastering each one before continuing.
  • Choose a quiet time to visit the pools and practise.
  • Create a photo book of the pool and talk about what happens when you visit it.

At home, you can also work on their water fears in the bath or shower. Children can wear goggles to practise putting their face under water or blow bubbles. They can also practise splashing water onto different parts of their bodies and keeping their mouth closed around water.

Tips for helping children who are afraid of water

I’ve saved the best idea about helping a child afraid of water for last – encourage your child to dress up in their swimming togs and pack their swimming bag at home. This doesn’t have to mean you are going to the pool or beach, but simply lets them associate these objects without fear. By playing in the garden with their togs, they begin to develop positive associations with them. A personalised swimming bag can also help make swimming a special activity, as well as making sure they don’t lose their clothes!

How to help children who are afraid of water

You can purchase your child a water-resistant swimming bag here at Mud Mates too. Perfect for toddlers, pre-schoolers and even big kids, everyone loves our swim bags!


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