For some children, water is a real danger, rather than a place to play. But what could be more frustrating than not being able to share the joys of bathing with your children, especially when summer is on its way?
Nabaiji can give you a few tips that will help you understand their apprehension and help them overcome their fear, so that they will feel at home in this new environment.
The right attitude
Keep things in perspective! Fear of water can be overcome. Almost one quarter of the population is afraid of water, but luckily this is a problem that can be solved.
If your infant does not feel at ease in the water, then never apply any pressure whatsoever. Making fun, demeaning them or making comparisons with other children will simply make them more anxious. Similarly, trying to reason with them about their fear is usually a waste of time.
Instead, try to calm them down and comfort them, so that they feel safe. Try to listen and understand in order to support and reassure them, so that they become more confident.
Understanding their fear of water
Many children often and spontaneously feel at home in water. It is a pleasant element that is also a source of pleasure and relaxation.
There are many and varied causes of fear of water, which may take different forms, from one child to another. This fear usually comes from a trauma or from the child's environment. So the real question is: does the child's fear of water come from the element itself?
A bad experience: did the child swallow water or were they scalded in a bath? Did the shampoo hurt their eyes? Were they were afraid of the noise, the crowd or the splashes in a packed swimming pool? Children may subconsciously and systematically link water to unpleasant or painful experiences. Try to support them and restore their self-confidence.
- Bad memories: if a child witnesses a row between its parents when in the bath, or tends to suffer from nightmares related to water, these bad memories can cause the child to associate water with this type of upsetting situation. Talk to them and reassure them. If the problem does not go away, consult a psychologist, who may be able to help them release these fears.
- The parents' own fears: if the parents are themselves afraid of water, or feel apprehensive about putting their child in water, then there is a danger that they will transmit this fear to the infant. In this case, the parents must try to overcome their own fears, so that they do not transmit them to their child.
- The fear or a moving element: even children who are familiar with water may feel destabilised when they enter natural aquatic environments. They are different from swimming pools or baths, and can cause children to feel frightened and to panic.
Fear of the unknown: the problem in a natural aquatic environment is that there is no bottom. Children may feel uncomfortable when they cannot see anything underwater. Buy a pair of goggles or a mask for them and show them that there is no danger and that they can open their eyes underwater, talk underwater, and that they simply need to relax.
Help them overcome their fear
You can make your child feel at ease in water by helping them to learn step by step, at their own pace, and by building trust. It is up to the child to decide when they are ready. Don't rush them. Some children need more time than others.
Try to create the ideal conditions that will allow your children to enjoy a positive experience in water, as opposed to a negative experience: a familiar spot, water at the right temperature, no crowds and not too much noise and only when the child is in good shape.
Familiarise the child with the water by going in with them until they are leg-deep. If you or your child does not feel at ease, then go no further, and simply enjoy splashing around at the water's edge. This is a special moment.
You can then help the infant to become accustomed to the element by playing at the water's edge, with a ball or a bucket, until they feel comfortable and self-assured. You can also help your child overcome his fears by splashing water onto their body.
And when the time is right, you can enter the water with your child, while introducing them to this new environment, to the inflatable toys, etc. Little by little, he will then leave your arms.
Lastly, parents should never hesitate to splash around and have fun in water themselves, sing in the shower or simply enjoy being in contact with water. Set a good example!