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My son has a fear of swimming

My son is 6, and the other day we went to a pool. He was super excited until it came time to get in the water. He kept telling me that he doesn't know how to swim, that he would drown and that his floaties wouldn't hold him up. It took a good half hour before I talked him into it by telling him id hold him until he felt comfortable. He never had a close encounter with drowning or anything, maybe he overheard a story on the news about drowning or something, i don't know. I considered swimming lessons, but I just feel it would be a waste of money if he even refuses to get in the water. Suggestions?

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Asked by Anonymous at 12:12 PM on Jun. 24, 2013 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Answers (11)
  • go slowly, do NOT force him
    and whatever you do- do NOT throw him in and tell him to swim. YES people do it
    My brother drowned so I have REAL issues with that- hubby wanted to do it with ours
    my dad's brothers did it to him in a river- and he hated the idea of swimming until the day he died.

    I taught my kids eventually - but it took a couple of summers
    I guess it depends on HOW afraid he is, but I would say swimming lessons would be a good thing- and maybe if you aren't there- he will be more willing?

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 12:17 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • It's a strange sensation and not being in control probably drives his fear. It can take a while for kids to get used to standing in deep water. I will say though that my kids did things for their swimming instructors that they wouldn't do for me. I don't know if they just wanted to be brave for their teacher and it's easier to show weakness or sensitivity to people that know you more, or if the teachers were just better at getting them in the water and getting them to do what was asked. I think it was possibly a combination of both.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 12:36 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • My son is up and down about swimming. I had him for 6 months with swimming and he seemed like he was enjoying it and then would get reserved. Start out slow and don't push. good luck!

    Answer by Sillylins at 12:38 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • is there a kiddie pool?
    or steps he can play on to acclimate him to the sensation?


    Answer by feralxat at 12:46 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • Completely 100% NORMAL fora kid that age. I used to teach swim lessons to kids at my local YMCA. Most of the lessons I taught were the beginning levels for kids 3-5 years old. It is normal for kids to be afraid of the water if they haven't been around it. I don't remember how many parents I talked with who would express their surprise and what their child would do for me in lessons that the parents could NOT get the kid to do on their own.

    It's ok (in my book) for kids to have a healthy fear of water. It's not ok (in my book) for kids to have a debilitating terror of the water.

    I think all kids should take some swim lessons. Give it a try, he may surprise you in lessons.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:57 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • I am 52 and still have a fear of the water. Never learned how to swim.

    Answer by louise2 at 1:50 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • my 6 year old is this same way we have floaties and a life jacket for him but he still has a fear and clings on my neck every time we get into a pool, I just hold him and keep reassuring him that he is fine and that he isn't going to drown and that I am right there if he needs anything, he is getting a little better but it is taking time(which it does with alot of children) so every chance we get I take him into the pool; my husband can't swim or even float so it is me that takes the boys to swim. Maybe you could join a class with him and that would help him overcome the fear. Good luck and be patient with him

    Answer by Christmaslver68 at 1:51 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • I agree that kids will do more for their swimming instructors, especially in front of their peers, than they'll do for their parents. My daughter is five. She's afraid to put her face in the water, but just the other day at the pool, one of the moms told me that she'll duck her whole head under with her hand plugging her nose when I'm not sitting there.

    Answer by Ballad at 2:45 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • Keep trying and do what he's comfortable with. If he only wants to sit on the side of the pool and dangle his legs, let him. If he only wants to sit on the step, let him. If you have to hold on to him the whole time he's there, let him. I love to swim so I've had my kids in the water since they were babies, but every summer it's like a new thing for them. My 4 yo is pretty fearless and jumps right in, but my 2 yo is more reserved and even with her swimmie on she wants me to hold her at least the first few times. They grow bolder as they get used to the water. Keep taking him regularly and encourage him to take risks, applaud him when he does, but don't berate him when he doesn't. Once he does get comfortable, take some pics of him in the water so you can post them around the house and talk about how much fun it is, how well he's doing, etc.

    Answer by missanc at 2:57 PM on Jun. 24, 2013

  • Another thing to try is find a pool wit ha zero entry area. It's like a little ramp, usually into the wading/shallow area. There are no steps and your kiddo can choose just how far into the pool/how deep he goes. They're becoming more and more common in my area.

    Something like this:


    Answer by Rosehawk at 2:27 AM on Jun. 25, 2013

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