DIY Teach Your Child How to Swim
Skill #3: Front Float
Goal: Have a calm, quiet body face down in the water.
Remember to continue practicing Skill #1: Get Your Face Wet and Skill #2: Blow Bubbles every time you give your child a bath or are in the pool with him. Learning how to swim is a lifelong process. You are helping your child foster a healthy relationship with water, which will benefit him positively for the rest of his life.
You can do this in the bath, on the steps, or standing in the pool.
- If you are standing, bend your knees so your shoulders are just below the surface.
- While facing your child, put his hands on your shoulders and hold his body out in front of you, keeping his head from falling into the water. The more apprehensive the child, the tighter you need to hold him.
- Let his legs float up behind him on top of the water.
- Blow bubbles in the water together. The goal is to have a calm, quiet body and to float, face down, on the surface of the water.
- As he becomes more comfortable and confident, loosen your grip and have him put his arms straight out at his sides like airplane wings.
Remember, this should be fun, so if it’s not, be patient. This is a learning process that does not happen overnight. Like anything, the more you practice, the more familiar the activity will become. I believe that your child’s experience in the water can influence the rest of his life. If the experience is positive, think about the added quality of life he will have since aquatic activities can be enjoyed at any age. The benefits of swimming include increased strength, coordination, self-esteem and cognitive development. Who wouldn’t want that for their child?
So, if this is not your child’s favorite activity, don’t give up. Start out slowly. Pour water over his head one time in the bath, using the cue 1,2,3. Then move on. Try again tomorrow, but don’t give up. I have a lot of conversations that go something like this…
“Okay, it’s time to practice taking a shower. Do you remember the cue ‘1, 2, 3’? I’m going to use that before you get water on your face.”
“NOOOOOOO! I don’t want water on my face.”
“ Whaaaaat?! That’s so silly. It is just water. It’s so gentle. Watch me.” (Model the behavior by using the cue 1,2,3 to pour water over my own head or have the child pour it over my head. Blink my eyes and smile, SHOWING that it is okay.)
“Yay! Okay, your turn to practice. Would you like to do it two times or THREE times?”
“Well, we need to practice. I’ll help you. Would you like to do it two times or THREE times? You choose.”
“Okay, you made a good choice. We will do it two times.”
Be firm. It is your child’s life!
Be sure to check out Pool Safely, a national public education campaign that works with partners around the country to reduce child drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. Take their Pledge and get a free Pool Safety Toolkit.
The next blog post in this series will cover DIY Teach Your Child How to Swim Skill #4: Front Glide with Kicks. Please share this with any parents, grandparents or caregivers that work with children and can benefit from this educational information. It could save a child’s life.
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