Reasons Children Are Scared of Swimming

Why Your Child is Scared of Water and Swimming

I have picked this topic because I know many parents are out there who search this on Google every day. When your child is scared of swimming any information could be helpful and parents normally are desperate to find out how they can help their children with learning to swim.

Swimming can be really fun f specially children, but, for many kids swimming and swimming pools are scary places. If your child doesn’t like water, any trip to a pool or beach for a swim could be a struggle. However, the first thing parents want to know is ‘why’? And, how to help their children if they are not interested in swimming lessons or even dislike getting water to their faces.

Swimming 101 For Parents

What To Do When Your Child Doesn’t Like Swimming

If you are a parent who was surfing on the internet and you have landed on this page because you put something like ‘is it normal for kids to be afraid of swimming’, or ‘why my child doesn’t like getting face wet?’ or ‘how do you teach a child to swim who is afraid of water?’ or something along that line.

I am going to help you through this blog to understand:

  1. what’s the root cause of all these problems
  2. where the fear of water could be coming from
  3. how parents can help their kids to overcome their fear of water and swimming

a child is unhappy in the swimming pool

Water: A Source For Fun or Something to be Scared of?

Swimming is really fun if you have a good relationship with water. Fully water-confident people love to spend hours in the water swimming and splashing around. Water-confident children particularly can be in the water all day, every day, and never hear them complaining. However, it is a completely opposite story for non-confident kids who cannot stand going to the pool and swimming. Swimming could be a place for creating happy and fun memories, lasting a lifetime, but, only for water-confident kids.

Water: A Source of Fear

Swimming pools can also be a scary place. Sometimes we hear from parents that their children don’t like the idea of taking a shower at home and even getting their faces wet is a challenge. Or sometimes we hear from some parents that their child used to like water and swimming as a baby, but as soon as they become a toddler, the mere mention of a pool excursion causes them to throw a tantrum and just keep saying “No!”.

Although swimming pools are generally very noisy and full of unfamiliar faces and sounds which could be scary for children particularly the very young ones, the swimming pool itself normally is not the cause of fear for children. The underlying issues could be something else.

So, Why Your Child Doesn’t Like Being in Water?

a child is fearful of water in pool

Can Children Grow Out of Their Fear of Water?

If your child had a bad experience with water or a particular has been frightened in water and pool, these negative associations with water will turn to fear as your child gets older and fears get more intense if you think by keeping your children away from water, the fear would go away on their own. Children don’t grow out of their fear of water. Actually, the older the kids get, the harder it is to establish a healthy and fun relationship with water.

Examples of Scary Experiences in Water (even in the bathtub)

    1. Slipping or falling in the water and going under even for just a few seconds
    2.  Getting excessively splashed to the face or pushed under the water

    3. Experiencing unwanted adult-initiated water submersion as a baby or toddler. Pushing small children who don’t have the vocabulary to express their emotions, underwater, can make them really scared.

    4. Seeing another person or specially a member of the family getting into difficulties in the water when swimming

    5. Exposure to other people’s negative feelings towards water could be really off-putting. Children who keep hearing comments like ‘stay away’ or ‘be careful’ or ‘don’t get close’ messages from a parent/carer every time they are close to water, build up a resistance towards liking water. Children with parents who don’t know how to swim themselves tend to be more scared of water. Parents tend to pass their fear to their kids.
    6. Some children may not have had a particularly scary experience in the water. But, they could have had an uncomfortable one. Examples are falling backward in water and lots of water suddenly gets in the nose and eyes of a child. If a child stays concerned about this type of experience repeating, it makes the child feel reluctant to get into the water.
    7. A child who has sensory processing issues. These kids are prone to sensory overload. With sensory overload issues, comes difficulty with water and/or loud noises. Most swimming pools are noisy and kids with sensory processing issues find trips to pools excursions.

Any of the above or a mixture of more than one can make the fear of water even more prevalent and hard to shake.

How To Help Your Fearful Child To Get To Like Swimming

toddler learning to swim with her dad

  1. Play in Water. Keep going to local pools for family swims with your child and just have fun in water. Take toys, sinkers, floats, etc, and make each pool trip about having fun. Stop instructing and coaching your child. Be a fun parent and just play.
  2. Persevere with exposure to water and pools and don’t give up if your child is not showing a positive emotion for the first or second trip.
  3. Book swimming lessons. The good news is a good swim teacher must know how to teach a fearful child to swim. And, we have swim teachers who can help everyone to get over their fear 😩 of Water & Swimming with our private lessons.


Enquire About Our 1:1 Lessons for Nervous Kids

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