This week (4-10 February 2019) is Children’s Mental Health Week. Regardless of age, Mental health is an important part of our overall health and these days parents pay a great deal of attention to their children’s happiness.
A happy child is active and expresses positive emotions and feelings at home, school and enjoys being with friends and family.
Play is an essential part of every child’s life and it is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of children.
Sport- which is structured play- can have an important role in making children happy. Swimming, in particular, could help children to feel very good about themselves and here are the reasons:
There is plenty of evidence which shows water-based activities and specially swimming improve mental health, mood and helps us to feel good. A new study, commissioned by Swim England, has found swimming has significantly improved mental health by reducing the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain.
Prof Ian Cumming, a swimming coach and the chair of the Swimming and Health Commission, explained: “Physical activity in any form can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, but swimming is unique because the buoyancy of water ensures everyone is able to take part at a pace that suits them.”
There are also reports on how sea swimming in cold water can boost mental health in adults. Cold water swimming in the fight against depression has shown to be effective. But, you may ask whether children can get the same benefits from swimming like adults? Can swimming actually bring happiness and joy to a child’s life?
The answer is YES and here is Why:
A survey of 1,323 schoolchildren by The YouGov in Britain determined how feelings of being ‘worried or sad’ affected children’s wellbeing and behaviour. This survey showed more than one in four (27%) children participated in this survey didn’t want to be around others due to being “worried or sad”.
It is also reported that at any one time, 1 in 10 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem, and knowing that most adolescent and adult mental illness can be traced back to childhood, paying attention to children’s happiness should matter a lot.
Mental Health Foundation advice is: ‘people must take a life-course approach to mental health because good mental health begins in infancy.’
Many think there is a link between the increase in “Screen time” and the rise in mental health issues specially in children and teenagers. Parents (and some health professionals) fret that young people who bask, zombie-like, in the cold glow of the television, computer and mobile-phone screens could be storing up a range of social, physical, mental and cognitive problems for their future selves. These days even toddler spend too much time in front of the screen. “Screen time” is the sum of the times spent steering at smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops and TV.
Although all these devices are good at keeping children entertained and busy, the major issue is that they keep children isolated and stop them from being actively interacting with others. Therefore, too much screen time negatively affect children’s mental health and their social skills.
Going to a swimming pool means that there cannot be any “screen time”. Period! Plus, the natural buoyancy of the water itself makes swimming a more relaxing activity than other types of exercise for children.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. found that people generally tend to exercise for longer periods of time while swimming.
We know swimming can significantly improve overall mood, and help combat depression. There is enough robust evidence for the significant improvements in health and quality of life that swimming produces. I guess there could not be much doubt about if swimming can add joy to children’s lives. So, is there any more mental health-related benefit?
Majority of adults I have met in my life have told me at least one happy childhood story which included memories of splashing around in the water with their parents, siblings, cousins or friends in their local pools or family holidays.
So, opportunities to form fond memories is another bonus which swimming can offer- how good is that?
Swimming for leisure is great but, a child who can swim can be far more easily persuaded to go for a family swim than a child who doesn’t like water. Remember, to fully enjoy a family swim or beach holidays, you need to make sure your children can swim and they are safe to be in and around water. And, that is where swimming lessons come in.