Below is an email I received from a coach who was teaching a child who had a near drowning experience:
I am a swim instructor and I am currently teaching a 4.5 yr old child who had a near drowning experience. She had removed her water wings and got into the pool over her head.
We are making slow progress. She now can submerge her face while standing on the steps and pick up diving toys. However, as soon as we are out in the water her fear of “going down to the bottom” kicks in and there is where our progress stops.
We have been through months of lessons and she trusts me, however her fear is so deep seeded we can’t get past it.
Here is our advice:
Overcoming fear of water (especially after a near drowning experience) can take time. And the process can’t be rushed, or you’ll risk losing the progress you’ve made so far. It sounds like you are dealing with it the right way and that you have a good understanding that trust is very important and slow progress is to be expected.
It sounds like you had your swimmer on water wings. And now you want to transition to independent swimming. There is a number of activities that you can try. Some may work with your swimmer, some may not – each child is different and what works for one, doesn’t necessary work for another.
Watch how we help a child afraid of water:
You will need to introduce the following progressive steps:
- Have your swimmer on noodles. If she is nervous with one noodle, start with two noodles under the armpits
- Have your swimmer doggie paddle with her head out of the water. Next, with her head submerged then coming up for breaths
- Hold her both hands, then one hand only if she his very nervous
- Next let go for a few seconds then for longer times and distances
- Use floating toys to make it fun and motivate her to swim for longer distances
Your main goal is to help your swimmer feel how they float on top of the water. Here’s how:
- Remind her that the water pushes her up, encourage and praise her often
- Have her float on noodles at the deeper end of the pool. If she says she doesn’t want to swim in the deep end, tell her that “the deeper the water, the better it helps her float”
- Do not ask your swimmer to try swimming without noodles yet. Spend at least 5 lessons doing this activity. And of course continue with the activities that she is comfortable with and enjoys, like picking up diving toys from the steps
- Spend at least 5 lessons at these steps before introducing new ones
If you want to start teaching your child to swim, here is the best gear to teach children to swim.
Related Article: Help A Child Become Comfortable In The Water. 7 Steps