We believe every child should learn how to swim, and we also want every child to enjoy swimming. However, it’s still important to have fun safely. That means knowing what not to teach your children when they’re learning to swim is just as important as what you should teach them.
Relying Too Much On Floatation Devices
While some instructors may incorporate floatation devices at times during lessons, it is dangerous to rely too much on them, particularly water wings. Such devices can give both children and parents a false sense of security. Parents may not watch children quite as closely because they’re counting on the device to keep their child safe. Similarly, children may try things they shouldn’t because they feel safe with the devices.
Additionally, floatation devices like water wings can slip off, leaving your child in danger if he or she does not know how to swim. They also may not keep your child in the correct position, so your child could be struggling in the water, and you may not realize it, especially if you assume your child is safe with the device on.
Instead, children should learn how to safely get to the edge of the pool or to the ladder and pull themselves up and out. That should be one of the very first skills children learn, and it actually provides far more safety and security than floatation devices do. Of course, life jackets should still be used when on boats, jet skis, et cetera.
They’re Weak, Wimpy, Bad, or Stupid
These are not lessons most of us would intentionally try to teach our children, but that’s the message they sometimes receive. In the past, it was sadly not uncommon to throw children into a pool and say, “Sink or swim.” Some of you may even have been taught that way. However, that presents a very real danger, since a panicking child is at greater risk of drowning.
Furthermore, if a child is terrified of the water, forcing him or her into the pool may result in a lifelong fear and aversion to swimming. Similarly, getting frustrated with your children for being fearful may create feelings of worthlessness and erode their self-esteem.
While swimming can be a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that water is also dangerous, and it’s natural for children to be afraid. Don’t push too hard. Be patient and create positive experiences, even if that means your child is simply getting near the water at first. Taking lessons from a professional is also helpful. Your instructor can help you learn what to work on with your child at home while making sure everyone is safe and having fun.
Being Too Independent
Confidence is great, but neither parents nor children should be so confident in their swimming abilities that they allow risky situations. Going back to our first point about floatation devices, an adult always needs to be within arm’s reach of any child who cannot swim proficiently. Even if you think your child seems fine or your child wants to try moving farther away, it’s just not safe.
When it comes to older children, it can be easy to be complacent. You think your children know how to swim, so you let them swim in the backyard pool or with their friends. Any child can get into a dangerous situation. It’s the reason public facilities always have lifeguards. No matter how confident you or your children feel in their swimming abilities, an adult should always be present and watching.
If your child participates in private pool parties, make sure there is a designated “water watcher.” If you are that person, remember that it’s vital to watch the water at all times. Checking your phone or talking to another nearby adult provides enough distraction that a child could easily drown without your notice. In fact, many children drown this way every year. You should also teach your children they are not allowed to swim without an adult who can swim present.
Swimming is a skill every child should learn, but it’s important to keep our children safe in the water, too. Professional swim lessons can help. If you’d like to learn more about Bear Paddle Swim School or try a complimentary lesson, click here.