Mila has always loved the pool.
Her first summer, we were constantly in the pool. She seemed to be at her happiest when we dance around and swam, so that’s what we did. It helped become familiar with the water and gave her a lot of pool confidence early on.
The next summer, I worried whether or not she would like it as much. But, she loved it and had no fear of getting in with her floaties.
Last summer, she mastered jumping in by herself (with her puddle jumper) and swimming to one of us. It felt like a victory! We spent so much time during our COVID summer swimming around.
When this summer came along, I wondered what she would want to try this year. I had no idea she’d be confident enough for no floaties.
I will say, my anxiety definitely stepped up. All the thoughts of what could go wrong flashed through my head. Yet, when I saw her excitement and determination to do it, I calmed down a little.
Since it’s been a process, I figured I’d share some tips that worked for us through it with other parents.
1. Set rules.
This was so big for my anxiety and Mila being pool safe. Not everyone’s rules will look the same, here’s ours.
- You have to wear floaties if there’s other kids in the pool.
- You don’t have to wear floaties if there’s an adult in the pool already.
- If you’re practicing swimming without, you have to have an adult beside you.
- When swimming between adults, let them know where you’re going.
- Only jump in without floaties if someone’s there watching.
- There has to be breaks.
These are the rules that work for us. My main focus is Mila’s safety. I want her to know she cannot swim without floaties by herself. She seems to be receptive with our rules too.
Although she does like to challenge us and push her limits.
2. Be confident and open.
Toddlers and kids can immediately tell what their parents are feeling. If you’re not confident and open to the situation, they’ll feel that.
At first, I was really anxious about it all. She was too! The more I let myself be okay with her swimming by herself, the more confident and stronger she became.
I think by having some sort of rules and guidelines for her, it calmed my anxiety too.
3. Get active with them.
Monkey see monkey do, right?
To put it out there, you can teach your child to swim confidently if you’re not in there with them.
While we’re in the pool, there’s someone showing Mila different ways to swim. Or they’re going under water with her. Just being active and involved goes a long way.
I also think the more she sees confident swimmers, the quicker she’s going to get there too.
4. Give them feedback.
At the beginning of this no floaty journey, I felt like I nit picked everything she was doing. Just because I wanted her to be safe.
Now, I’ve been able to give her constructive feedback.
The biggest one I’m always saying is to use big arms. She forgets halfway through to keep moving them. Once she’s reminded, she does it the next time. It’s all just a learning process!
Obviously, try not to bombard them with feedback. That can be discouraging, but there is a good balance to keep them safe and swimming.
5. Have FUN!
As with anything, the most important thing is to have fun!
I encourage Mila to jump in and show me different tricks. That’s always a hit! When we’re in the pool, we have races and make waves too. We make sure to play games while she has her floaties on too. Some games we play are hide-and-seek and building forts.
The stronger she gets as a swimmer, the more games we’ll get to play. I know she’s really excited to be able to dive for diving sticks and toys.
I hope our experience with swimming and these tips can help you with your toddler or child too!
What are some of your tips and tricks that helped you or your child swim?