Guest Post: Protect Your Kids – 5 Ways to Teach Them to Dive Safely

Protect Your Kids – 5 Ways to Teach Them to Dive Safely

A young child sees one of his friends do a cannonball off the end of the diving board at the family pool.  Excited to try it himself, he runs to the end of the pool, climbs on the board and runs to the end of it.  Is anything wrong with this picture?  There are several possible concerns about this scenario, which brings up 5 ways to make sure your child is diving safely.

1) Make sure the child is old enough to dive.  According to Metroparent.com, until children are about 7 or 8, they are likely too young to be diving.  If the child is younger than that age, they really don’t understand what is going on with the process of diving.  The child may tend to react in fear, treating the water as if it is a solid object, and tense up accordingly on a diving board or along the side of a pool.  As well, the child may not have developed the necessary muscles and coordination for the diving process.  Make sure the child can swim well before attempting diving.  Seeing an older child jump from the end of the board and make a huge splash may look appealing, but it may be too much for the child to absorb.

2) Talk to your child about diving.  Explain to the child that the water is not hard when they hit it, so the child won’t tense up as if they were hitting a solid object.  It is a reflex for a child to pick their head up and stick their hands out if they think they are falling.  The form necessary for diving may not seem natural, and the child might resist.  Ask the child if they have any fears about diving, and address their concerns.  Have the child watch the parent jump off the diving board with the proper form, and emerge from the water with a big smile on their face.  It will likely change their whole attitude toward diving.

3) Practice diving first.  While on land, have the child practice the motion of diving.  Show them how to place their arms over their head, pull their arms against their ears, and tuck their chin in a bit – but not to an uncomfortable degree.  The child can crouch down a bit and with one knee on the ground, one foot flexed, lean forward to get comfortable with the movement.  Practice the forward motion of diving until the parent believes the child understands the basic motion.  After this becomes comfortable, then bring the child to the edge of the pool with the parent in the water.  If necessary, have the child start by jumping into the parent’s arm from the side of the pool.  Continue this until the child is comfortable with the diving experience.

4) Make sure the diving area is safe.  The first rule is that the water must be deep enough.  Explain to the child that diving into waters of uncertain depth is to be avoided.  Diving into the shallow end can be disastrous, so make it clear that diving is only for the deeper water, or if at a public pool, where the lifeguard has approved it.  This caution applies even more so to a lake, where the water is not clear enough to see the bottom.  If there is a swimming area, and the lifeguard says it is OK, that area is safe for diving.  Otherwise, make it clear to the child that no diving is to be performed where the water depth hasn’t been checked out.

5) If necessary, utilize professional help.  Not all parents are swimming and diving instructors.  Be willing to admit that if it applies, and allow a professional to take the child under their wing and teach them to dive.  If the parent is uncomfortable in the water, or not confident in their own swimming and diving abilities, they might transmit that fear and uncertainty to the child.  If the learning process is made pleasant and positive, the child will be much more likely to take to the water naturally, like most children do with even a little encouragement.

With a big smile on his face, your son waves at you from the end of the diving board.  You’ve taken all the proper measures to have him learn to dive safely.  You lean back in your lawn chair and enjoy that moment when he leaps up and plunges into the water to create that big splash so enjoyed by children everywhere!

Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer for In The Swim.  She has three kids with her wonderful husband, two boys and a girl  She is also the proud owner of two lovely golden retrievers.  She spends hours at her family swimming pool, watching the dogs and kids splash and play.  She is also a runner who is diligently training for her first half marathon.

1 thought on “Guest Post: Protect Your Kids – 5 Ways to Teach Them to Dive Safely”

  1. Although I was always an avid swimmer-I never could get myself to jump off a diving board or even the side of a pool–I did manage-in my much younger days to get life saving certification! I also taught a couple of my friends children to swim—but diving–NO THANK YOU to this day!!!

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