While the water proves an enticing playground to some children, others harbor a fear of water that makes the same shallow pool seem like a dangerous place for play. If your child is aquaphobic, or has a fear of water, you can help him overcome it. By both considering the reasons behind this fear, and dedicating yourself to the task of helping him overcome it, you can transform your water-shy kid into an aqua-loving little swimmer.
Reasons for Aquaphobia
Children can develop a fear of water for any number of reasons, or for no real reason at all. Children of parents who are aquaphobic adopt this fear by following their parents’ lead. Others suffer from a fear of water due to a traumatic incident, such as a near downing or witnessing a water-related accident. Still others have no reason at all for being scared of water, but just seem to demonstrate a natural hesitancy to get into it.
The Smart Start
The way you introduce your child to water can play a large part in his feelings about it. By not pushing your child toward water play, but instead allowing him to develop an interest in this activity on his own, you can likely reduce his water-related stress. Start small when you introduce your kid to water, ensuring that you support his exploration and carefully monitoring his first forays into the water to ensure he doesn’t experience a negative water-related event.
Your Role in Correcting Water Fear
Many parents struggle with just what to do when their child exhibits a fear of water. While the natural response to this fear may be to push the child toward in-water play so that he sees that he has nothing to fear from water, excessive pressure could actually increase his degree of fear. Instead, encourage, but don’t force, your child to explore water. Model water-loving behavior, showing him how much fun can be had in the water and encouraging him to join in the family fun in a shallow pool where he is out of harm’s way.
Encourage your aquaphobic child to venture into the pool by offering him a reward. Before venturing to the pool, set a goal for your child. Tell him, for example, that if he wades around in the wading pond, he can stop on the way home and get a small car. When giving him his earned reward, remind him why he is receiving the reward so that he can clearly see the token as tied to his willingness to try water exploration.
If, despite your best efforts, your child retains a severe fear of water, it may be wise to seek professional assistance. While a fear of water in and of itself is not a huge problem, an excessive water phobia may indicate that your child has underlying anxiety issues to which you should tend. Speak with his physician regarding this severe fear, and ask this medical professional to recommend a course of action.