Children are born with an innate fear of drowning, which means they can have difficulty feeling comfortable in the water. Special needs kids can require even more care in successfully introducing them to an aquatic environment. However, even with the best intentions and careful supervision, it doesn’t always go smoothly.
A setback in the water can be brief and overcome easily, or difficult and persistent. The most important thing to remember is that all kids are different and parents should not be discouraged if a setback means reaching goals takes a little longer.
Here are some ways to reboot following a setback and get your child back into a positive attitude about the water:
- Work toward goals gradually. Don’t try to over come your child’s fears all at once, start small and build on little victories. Sit together with only your feet in the water. Dip in slowly, until your knees are wet, then your legs. It’s okay if this takes a couple sessions, just keep up the encouragement.
- Be a part of it. Don’t just instruct and watch, show your kid how it’s done. Let your child watch you exploring and enjoying the water, and draw comfort and courage from your example.
- Have as much fun as you can. Bath and pool toys are your friends! A good ol’ rubber ducky can work wonders, and more advanced toys for the pool, including swim noodles and kickboards, are an easy way to encourage play. Your child can be distracted from fear of the water when there’s something fun to do.
- Get a little wetter. Once your child is comfortable splashing feet and hands, start experimenting with getting head and face wet. You might face some resistance, that’s only natural. Take it slow: use a cup in the bath and gently play, slowly working up to more and more water on their head. The ultimate goal is to get them comfortable blowing bubbles in the water and not to freak out if you pour some water on their head.
Infant Aquatic Survival is a great introduction to the water, especially for special needs children and those who have a more intense fear of drowning. Contact me directly if you want to learn more about the many wonderful swim lesson opportunities available.