It’s summertime and most of us will be heading to the pool. The water can be a lot of fun but if your kiddo can’t swim it can be a little intimidating (and scary).
What’s the right age to start swimming?
My neighbor recently had a baby and she has already started taking him to swimming lessons. (I didn’t even realize this was a possibility until a few years ago!! 🙂 ) Your definition of swimming might be different than mine, but we are going to assume that Dog Paddling without a breath is our definition. According to many different sources, children as young as 2 years can paddle 4-5 meters. It’s also advised to take parent/child swimming classes until you child is at least 3 years old. Remember that not every child will be ready to learn to swim at the same age and swimming lessons are just one part of the overall protection. Always make sure your child is supervised.
Dr. Weiss from The American Academy of Pediatrics says “Children need to learn to swim. But even advanced swimming skills cannot ‘drown-proof’ a child of any age. Parents must also closely supervise their children around water and know how to perform CPR.”
What if your child is scared of water?
Personally, I think introducing your child to the water at a young age is ideal for helping them feel comfortable. However, I understand that not everyone (myself included) can start taking their kids to a pool as infants/toddlers. If your child has a fear of water, I think the best way for kids to slowly acclimate to water is by seeing other kids enjoying it…BUT don’t forget to also have them in a consistent, positive learning experience (either with you or a trained instructor). Most of the time fear will become more entrenched the older a child gets, so try to address the problem as soon as you notice it.
What rules should kids know about how to behave at a pool?
- NO running on the pool deck. This one is always so hard to enforce, because kids LIKE to run…especially when they are playing. Pool decks are slippery (for obvious reasons) and HARD. If a kid slips and hits their head, it could cause a concussion.
- NO diving in shallow water. They can still jump in the pool (because everyone knows that’s the most fun way of entering) but make sure they know the dangers of going in head first in shallow water.
- NO dunking other kids. Kids like to play around and sometimes it can get out of hand. Having a rule of “no dunking” is good practice for keeping everyone safe.
- Know your limits. Teach kids to know their limits when it comes to water. If your child is not a strong swimmer, maybe set a height rule (ex. 4 ft) for how far they can go out without you.
Summer is a great time to have fun at the pool but safety and teaching your kids HOW to swim should ALWAYS be your first priority!