If your child is afraid of water, you may be concerned about what happens if your child is in a situation where he or she needs to swim. Your child will then suddenly be forced to face his or her fears under a much more dangerous circumstance. Therefore, you should try to help your child overcome his or her fear of water first instead.
Remember That Children Perceive Reality Differently
Younger children can have a difficult time differentiating between fantasy and reality. The reason why your child fears water--such as a fear of monsters in the water--might fade with time, Find out why your child is afraid in the first place. Then, get into the water yourself. The mere act of avoiding water causes some children to become fearful because they might believe that their parents are afraid of the water.
Don't Pressure Your Child
Since your child is small, the water may seem enormous and overwhelming. Also, swimming in water causes children to lose a sense of boundaries. Therefore, if you force your child to swim, his or her fears will be cemented. Instead, get your child as close to the water as possible without inducing fear. For example, encourage your child to play near the water, but not in it.
Gradually Introduce Your Child to Water
After your child has become comfortable near the water, splash some of it and see if your child will do the same. Place your feet in the water and see if your child copies you. Children love to mimic their parents and also take cues from you when they see that you are unafraid of the water.
Play in Shallow Water
Find an environment where your child can walk into the water gradually. For example, play in a shallow swimming pool with small steps. If your child is tall enough, you could get him or her accustomed to walking around in the water and maybe even retrieve a toy tossed to the bottom of the pool. Remember to provide your child with positive reinforcement whenever he or she faces water anxieties.
The sooner your child learns how to overcome his or her fear of water and learn how to swim, the more quickly he or she will get over a fear of water. Contact a group like YMCA of Greater Cincinnati for more help with teaching your child how to overcome their fear and learn to swim.