How To Help A Nervous Child Learn How To Swim


Swimming is a skill that all children should learn. Support the development of their strength and flexibility and keep them fit and healthy by allowing them to explore the water and exercise whilst they’re doing it. Yes the water can be tonnes of fun but more importantly, learning to swim could save their one day if they ever find themselves in a spot of bother. Most parents are keen to dive in and pass down their swimming knowledge but for a lot of parents they are faced with children who are scared of taking the plunge. Continue reading to find out how to help a nervous child to swim should you be faced with a tot who doesn’t seem too keen on the water.

swimming lesson photo

Get The Gear

It’s not always clear exactly why your child is unwilling to get off to a swimming start. Getting water in their eyes, feeling the cold or a general fear of the unknown are just some of the reasons why they might be fearful. Making sure that they have the gear to support their new venture will help them feel more at ease and supported in the water. Swimming goggles will keep the water away from their peepers meaning that your child can spend more time facing their fear instead of constantly wiping the water away from their eyes. If you’re teaching in the sea then goggles are even more necessary as the salt water can irritate and even sting young eyes. When thinking about floatation devices there’s a range of options to consider. Standard water wings will keep your child safe in the water and support their development but if your child’s nerves are preventing them from getting in the water a floatation jacket may be more suitable for them. This alternative to water wings will make them feel more secure and safe when entering the water meaning they’re more likely to give it a go.

Gain Trust

As their parents they’ll be looking to you for reassurance and support so staying positive and strong when guiding them is key. If they sense that you’re also nervous about the situation then it will make them ten times more anxious than they were in the beginning. It’s understandable that entering a new environment can be daunting so give them lots of praise and positive reinforcement when they get in the water. You could even offer a reward for after their swim lessons. Acknowledging their fear, whether you understand it or not will also make your child feel validated and that’s the first step to gaining their trust. Planning a step by step programme could also help. You can set small goals for each swim session that are easily achievable to give your child a sense of achievement and build their confidence. For example, if you set a goal for them to get their head wet during their first session then build that to putting their head under the water for their second session supports them to clearly see their own progression and will boost their self esteem.


Although it’s easy to assume that all children will take to the water easily it’s more common than you realise for a child to be nervous when it comes to swimming. By investing in equipment that will make them feel extra safe and being super supportive throughout the whole process you’ve got the foundations to help your child overcome their nerves.

Guest post by Hubert Dwight


About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.