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Swimming and the Fear Factor - NYTimes.com


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Parents are not always the best teachers, especially for children who are afraid of the water, although a parent should be present and visible to the child during formal swimming lessons.

Try to find instruction best suited to your child’s comfort zone in water. A child who is very frightened or nervous around water may do poorly in a large class; a small class — or even better, individual attention, at least for the first few lessons — is likely to be more effective. Make sure the instructor knows of your child’s reservations.

Lessons commonly begin by teaching children not to be afraid of the water. They learn to get their faces wet, blow bubbles, lift their faces up and take a breath. They then learn to float and breathe properly while doing simple strokes like the dog paddle and backstroke.

But no matter how well a child learns, no child can be made “drown-proof,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, the lead author of the pediatrics academy statement. In addition to learning to swim, children should be closely supervised when in the water.

It is up to parents to establish safety rules and precautions. Rule No. 1: Never swim alone. An adult who knows how to swim should always be present and paying attention to the child, not to a book or a phone. Even older children who are accomplished swimmers should be supervised or, at least, always with a buddy who is a strong swimmer.

In general, it's never too early for a child to learn to swim.

And yes, NEVER SWIM ALONE.

I'm fairly aquatic. 

Both my sons started with swimming lessons when they were 5 months old. 

They are both fearless in the water. 

Arguably the best tactic early on was that I went in the water with them and spent a lot of my time underwater while holding them at the surface. I used to lay on the bottom of the kids pool fully submerged with one of my kids sitting on my stomach. 

The kids learned that I had no fear of the water - and thus even if they occasionally swallowed water, it wasn't something they feared, just a momentary discomfort. 

Arguably the best way to have kids be fearless and safe in the water is for parents to get in and play with them - underwater. 

very similar experience

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