How to Help Children Feel More Confident in the Water this Summer
As Disney launches a Family Fun Swim program, find out how parents can encourage kids to fall in love with swimming.
11 June 2019
All Credits: PA
Swimming and having fun in the water is one of life’s joys – but it can also be an essential lifesaving skill, especially as drowning is one of the most common causes of accidental death in children.
Yet, despite 95% of parents with kids aged under 12 believing that swimming is a key life skill for youngsters, more than half (59%) worry their child isn’t confident in the water. Furthermore, research by Sport England has found that one in four children can’t swim 25m unaided by the time they leave primary school. Further data from Swim England shows more than a quarter of parents take their children to the pool just once every six months or less, with 10% going less than once a year or never.
Swimming also provides lots of health benefits. It helps keep children’s heart and lungs healthy, improves strength and flexibility, increases stamina and even improves balance and posture. It can work wonders for boosting their confidence too and opens the door to a range of other activities, including kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, surfing, triathlon and yachting. Clearly, there are a wealth of reasons to help children get more water confident – and the younger the better.
With Sport England’s research showing enjoyment is a key factor in keeping youngsters active, Disney and Swim England have launched a year-long programme of Disney-inspired Family Fun Swim Sessions – to ensure swimming is a fun and safe activity for all ages and help young children get on the right road to swimming proficiency.
To encourage parents to take the plunge and get their kids enjoying the water, Katie Towner, head of Learn to Swim at Swim England, has the following tips to help improve children’s water confidence…
1. Show them your confidence
You can help give your child confidence in the water by showing you feel comfortable too. If you look like you’re happy and enjoying swimming, they’re much more likely to do so too. Speak to your local leisure provider to find adult learn-to-swim lessons near you, or visit the Swim England Poolfinder (swimming.org/poolfinder).
Push and glides can be introduced once the child is proficient in regaining an upright position. They can be practiced with the use of flotation equipment until the child is able to float independently. And be sure to make the practicing fun, with plenty of encouragement.
4. Practice floating like a starfish
“Getting your child to relax and float on their back in the water like a starfish is something we always recommend parents try with their little ones,” says Towner. Knowing they can float on their back gives them confidence to take to the water, as they can rest for a while. The star float is the first step in learning vital water safety skills.
5. Swim at least once a week
Swimming at least once a week from a young age is not only a fun activity, but it helps children get used to being around the water and improve their movement and swimming skills.
6. Take them to a family fun swim session
Check out sessions at your local pool to help your kids have fun and improve their confidence while learning some essential swimming skills. The newly-launched Disney-inspired Family Fun Swim Sessions use some of Disney’s most-loved characters to inspire activities to do just that. Taking place at more than 250 pools nationwide for the next year, you can find your nearest pool offering the sessions at swimming.org/Disney.