Enjoy the following guest post, “Swimming Lessons – A Real Lifesaver,” written by Audrey English.
If you have young children, as young as six months, move learning to swim up to the top of the list of important things to teach your children. Before you cringe and dismiss this as a crazy idea, think about it. Babies spend the first nine months of life suspended in amniotic fluid. What better time to introduce a child to swimming than before those memories fade for good. There are some extremely important things to consider.
- Do not ever toss a child into water and decide he or she will figure out how to survive. If you want to destroy a child’s ability to trust, this is an excellent way to do it. Instead, make a game of it. Get in the water with your baby and play together. When your child is ready, it will come naturally. Do not expect Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps. Babies just learn to feel comfortable in the water and get around. The gold medals will come later.
- If you decide to give your infant swimming lessons, a good teacher should ask parents to work with their own children. You will be at the shallow end of the pool so, if you cannot swim, you do not have to be afraid. Whatever you do, do not let your child know you are stressed. Children can be very sensitive to how their parents feel. If you cannot swim and do not want your children to face the problems you do, then pat yourself on the back. You are doing a courageous and loving thing by teaching your children how to swim. There is no reason why you cannot get someone your child trusts to be your surrogate in the water. You can cheer, safely, from the sidelines.
- Do not force a reluctant child to take swimming lessons. Some older children are afraid. Babies tend not to be afraid which is why they take to the water so easily. Sit with your child in the baby pool. Splash and play until your child is more comfortable in the water. You can then graduate to the steps on the shallow end of the adult pool. Let your child guide you. It takes time. Be patient.
- Eventually, your child should be enticed by the fact that the other children are having fun in the pool. Hopefully, your child should feel more relaxed around the water. You might try getting a child who swims to work with your child. You should always stay in the pool with both of them. If you cannot swim, have a trusted adult who can stay near your child.
- There are instructors who are specially trained to work with children. Some allow the use of aids like water wings, while others believe they cause more harm than good. Talk to other parents whose children have learned to swim with a particular instructor. If they and the children are happy, chances are you and your children will be as well.
- There are websites dedicated to providing information about teaching young children how to swim. Sites like Baby Swimming have information that will help you help your child learn this critical skill.
Swimming is not only an essential skill, it is a lot of fun. Giving your children this gift is one of the best things you can do as a parent. If you cannot swim, it might be a good time for you to learn. You do not have to set any world records. Your goal is to be safe when you are near the water.
Audrey English is a Red Cross swimming instructor who has been swimming since she was a baby. She also enjoys writing for SurfWear.co.uk because it gives her an opportunity to share her love for swimming and gorgeous swimsuits.