Chances are you have heard someone say, “I learned to swim when grandpa threw me in the water off the dock — sink or swim — that’s how I learned!” Well, hopefully those days are long gone and you will want to know how to make swiming fun for your children and grandchildren, not scare them away from the pool!

Imperial Pool Builders, swimming pool contractors serving Decatur and Champaign, Illinois offer advice for introducing your children to the pool in a way that instills in them a lifelong love of and appreciation for, the water.

How to make swimming fun

Keep in mind that the swimming pool is a whole lot bigger than the bathtub and even if your child loves the bathtub he may be afraid of a body of water as large as the family swimming pool. You may even want to invest in a plastic kiddie pool and get your youngsters used to that water before you try the family swimming pool.

You may have a child who takes to the water like a fish or you may have a child who is tentative and will only dip a toe in the pool before he wants to head to the swingset or the sandbox! Keep each child’s personality in mind and tailor the way you introduce him to the water to the way he learns best and that won’t scare him.

Your patience will pay off and you will probably have a child who will love spending hours in the pool with you!

Tips for introducing your child to the pool

  1. Take it slow. Plan to spend hours, days or even weeks, getting your child comfortable.
  2. Ease them in slowly and hold them tightly when you get into the water together. Hug him close to you and just walk around the shallow end of the pool. When you do this you are making him feel safe and not scared.
  3. When she’s comfortable, jump up and down a bit. Tell her to splash. Make a huge game of the splashing and jumping so she associates the pool with fun.
  4. After he’s comfortable, hold him under his arms and walk around the water, letting his legs float free. Make certain your child wears a life vest in the water at all times! Even after he’s learned to swim a life vest is recommended.
  5. After your child is comfortable out of your arms, let her hang onto the side of the pool and blow bubbles into the water. When you’re doing this you’re getting her comfortable with putting her face in the water. You do it first. Blow some raspberries and make it a game. She may try to copy you and if she does, encourage it!

Once your child is truly comfortable in the water, and has been for several weeks, ask if he wants to jump from the side of the pool into your arms. Hold his hands and move a couple of steps back. Encourage him to jump toward you. Don’t let him go underwater or all your hard work will be for naught. Keep him above water until he’s ready to go under water without gasping and being afraid.

Once he’s comfortable holding your hands and jumping in, see if you can move back and let go of his hands and have him jump to you. Again, don’t let him go under water until he is ready.

Take time and have fun. Remember, too, don’t do any swimming “lessons” with a child who is cranky or tired or he will associate the water with being grumpy!