How to Teach The Scared Child to Swim

Ready to Teach Your Child to Swim?

Is your child scared of the thought of getting into a pool and swimming?

We’ve got some powerful parenting tips that will help your child transform from scared to confident!

Let’s do this!

Genius tips to teach kids to swim

Hot summer months mean one thing to kids — swimming!

Whether it’s at the beach, a friend’s pool or your own backyard, a child definitely needs to learn how to swim.

But, what if you child is insanely scared of the water?

Like belts out blood-curdling screams and attaches to you like a thirsty leach?

Ahh…we share those same ear-shattering memories…;0)

But we learned a teaching method that’s been effective more often than not!

I wish we knew this years ago…it’s definitely been a HUGE “aha” parenting moment for us!

Back before we tried this method we had several “swimming nightmares.

I can still visualize one of them.

How to Teach Your Kids to Swim

Some sweet friends offered their pool for the day.

Don’t you love those kind of friends? ;0)

My husband and I thought our kids would have a blast.

But…then the shrieks, screams and wailing began.

No! No! Don’t put me in the water!” cried two of our four daughters as their eyes grew huge with fear.

They had wrapped themselves around my husband and refused to venture into the water.

Being in such a huge pool of water intimidated them and frightened them more than I thought possible.

Their fear of water was so bad, they didn’t even want to take a dip in the kiddie pool.

Pretty sad, right?

It was an unexpected parenting moment, and I had to learn fast that not all kids want to jump into a pool and start swimming.


Are all kids scared of swimming?

Some kids would rather do 27 chores than be coaxed into a large body of water — no matter how hot it is outside!

But,we wanted to help our daughters overcome their fear so they could learn to enjoy one of summer’s greatest joys — days and days of swimming!

Plus, we knew that is was beneficial for their safety and health — just like this article explains.

In our family, my husband is the swim master.

He’s an awesome teacher and he loves teaching our children necessary life skills — which includes swimming.

He’s patient, yet tries to get our kids to strive to do their best — and swimming is no exception!

The past five summers he has spent time teaching all six of our kids how to swim.

Flexibility and patience was an absolute necessity!

Since my husband has had such great success in the area of teaching kids to swim, I asked him for his best advice and pointers.

Get ready to enjoy your “aha” moment!

How to Teach Your Scared Child to Swim

Take it slow.

There is no need to rush the process of your child getting accustomed to swimming in the water.

If you start rushing the learning process, that can make kids uncomfortable — fast.

They get stressed, you get stressed and learning is no longer fun.

If you want your child to learn to love swimming, you need to keep a positive, patient and non-rushed attitude.

It will end up saving you time in the long run of teaching a child who is scared!

In the beginning, use life jackets.

Choosing to put a life jacket on your child during the beginning learning processes will build confidence.

Sure, the water may seem daunting, but after your child has learned to play, splash and enjoy the water without sinking, she then can move on and learn how to move without a life jacket.

But, don’t rush the process!

Take one step at a time.

Use the shallow end.

Until your child is completely over her fear of water, she can enjoy the shallow end of the pool.

Don’t coax her to enter deeper waters.

Taking time in the non-intimidating shallow end will help create a fun and excited attitude about playing and swimming in the water.

Again, this is where patience comes in as the parent! And remember — enjoy these moments with your child.

She will remember that you taught her one of the most important life skills — swimming!

Create excitement about water play.

If your child is extremely fearful of pools, lakes or the ocean, try starting with slip in slides, water balloon fights and even this super-cute DIY waterpark that you can make!

Associating water with fun helps them build a desire to WANT to swim!

Teach your child to swim with these creative ideas

Invite other friends to come along.

Kids are often more brave when their peers are present.

I remember taking swimming lessons as a child, and when I would see my peers moving onto the next steps, diving into the water and really focusing on their swimming lessons — it made me want to follow suit.

Plus, it would be totally embarrassing if I didn’t at least try!

In some circumstances, peer pressure can be a good thing!

Then when your child chooses to learn additional swimming skills, in spite of fears, she will gain even more confidence and actually want to progress in this swimming adventure!

Teach Your Kids to Swim — MORE Tips!

Grab some new swimming gear.

Taking my child to the store and letting her choose new swim suits with her favorite characters and also grabbing “really cool” goggles to match always helps!

It builds anticipation for any kids who love getting new stuff! (Which is almost every kid in the universe..ha!)

If you’re short on time, you and your child can shop online and get your new swimwear delivered to your door.

Kids love surprise boxes just for them!

Float first.

As soon as your child is over her fear of the water, remove the life jackets and teach her how to float.

It’s the simplest technique and easy to learn.

Do not let your child learn the floating process with any floatation aids such as padded swimming clothes, life jackets or arm floats.

If she learns with those aids, she will have a false confidence that could lead her into unsafe swimming decisions.

Talk about correct breathing.

Many times kids want to inhale when they come up out of the water instead of exhale.

Make sure your child knows to exhale first, and then breathe normally. If they inhale first, they can get choked — which is super scary to most kids.

Practice breath-holding.

Whenever you begin to teach your child to hold her breath, make sure you never encourage her to hold her breath as long as possible — that’s dangerous and unsafe.

Instead, give them a simple goal and help them through it.

For instance, you can say, “Hold your breath and go under the water for three seconds. I will count to three out-loud so you will know when three seconds is up.”

Keeping it short and simple helps kids see a goal and achieve a goal.

It also gives them added security because they know exactly how long to hold their breath.

Always assure your child she can come up for any reason, even if it is before the time limit.

Your Kids Can Learn to Swim!

Once your kids have overcome their fear of swimming and learned the basics, you can encourage them to move forward by taking additional swimming lessons!

Here’s a great guide to find out when that’s the next best step for your child!

Have you had a child who was scared to swim?

Share your best fear-free tips with us on social media!

*Affiliate links have been added to help you find some fun swim gear for kids!*

More Inspiration Just for You