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How did your child handle the pool at age 4?

my oldest, 4 and a half, is and always has been terrified of water getting in her face. this fear isn't just in the pool but even in the bathtub. when i wash her hair she needs to hold a washcloth so she can wipe the water off her face! she also flips out and starts crying if i accidentally get a drop on her face when im washing it. luckily, she's starting to take showers and she isn't as scared because she is in more control of getting her hair wet. but i still have to remind her over and over again to lean her head back and to step further into the water.

back to the pool issue, the only time she liked it was when she was an infant in a floatation device. last year, i got her use to arm floaties but it took weeks for that to happen. i had to do babysteps with her to get her off the pool stairs. finally when she wasn't holding on to me, and couldn't touch the pool floor, she realized it was actually fun and for the rest of the summer i couldn't get her out of the pool. now that it's warm here we're going to the pool but it's like starting over again. she's afraid when her feet don't touch the floor but she's also terrified of drowning (i keep having her practice jumping by me standing in the pool and having her jump in my arms in the shallow end) and i have no idea why. she's never come close to it. i want to get her used to learning how to breathe under water, but i haven't come close to getting her that far yet. i can barely get her out of the shallow end. i was a water baby growing up, we had a pool in my backyard and i was in it everyday.

i'm just not sure why she has so much anxiety over the pool? ive been very patient with her and letting her call all the shots, and not put any pressure on her. but secretly i want so badly for her to be comfortable with the pool.


Asked by tnm786 at 1:36 PM on May. 5, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (14)
  • I had two who were that way and I made them get in anyway. Maybe it seems harsh but I even splashed them and let them cry. After a day or so they were used to it and realized I was not going to get them out just because they cried. My one son whose 11 now still doesnt love water on his face, but he can swim like a fish and deals with it. He learned to swim within a week of me forcing him into the water.

    Answer by gemgem at 1:38 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • She may just not be a "water person." DH isn't, never has, never will. Your gentle re-introduction to the pool, tub seem to be the best way to get her accustomed. I know you want her to not fear water and to not panic when she's in it. In the large city where I live, there are swim instructors who specialize in working with children who are reluctant to get into the pool. Maybe your pediatrician or local YMCA/YWCA could recommend someone.

    Answer by jmpj8107 at 1:43 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • My son is now 5, but his whole life he's stiffened up like a board as soon as he gets in a pool. My daughter clings. Neither one has much confidence.

    Answer by MariAnKenobi at 1:40 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • My son was the same or worse until I put him in lessons with older boys at 4. I got in and helped him while the lady taught the others. By 2 weeks, he not only could swim the length of the pool, but, could swan dive and float.

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 1:48 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • all of my children have been pool rats since they were old enough to go in the pool. however last summer i had an incident with my then 4 year old. we opened the pool and i went to get a part for the pump to hook it up in a matter of 2 seconds he had climb up and fell in the pool. He was in the pool no more than 2 seconds before i pulled him out. after that happened he would not go near the pool he literally climbed his 5' 9" brother to get away from the pool. I took me several attempts to just get him in the pool after he realized that it was okay he was fine. try getting a life jacket that was a life saver in getting his confidence back. good luck

    Answer by tcb101897 at 1:55 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • I have 3 DSs. The 2 oldest went through that. I am assuming that it is a phase that most children go through. My youngest is 4 and is going through that now. When my oldest was about 4, my DH and took him to the Sound-side of the Gulf of Mexico because it usually doesn't have sharks over there. DH was snorkeling and saw a baby octopus. DS wanted to see it, too. We put the face mask and snorkel on him. He never saw the octopus but he had fun looking for it. DS #2 eventually figured out it was fun to wear goggles to see under the water. For the longest time, he wouldn't get off of those darn steps either. We let him decide when he wanted to get off of those steps. It is difficult to watch them go through this, especially when we want to play and fun with them. We will do the same thing with DS# 3.

    Answer by dustbunny at 2:00 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • Mine all had at least 2 years of swimming lessons by age 4, and had/have no qualms about the water. They use/d their floaties yet, but didn't hesitate to jump in.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:03 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • My son and daughter both decided to love the pool around age 4. At age 2, my daughter was terrified. At 3, she was a lot like yours. Tuesday, she would not get out of the water for love nor money!

    They are all wearing life vests. Because we are just now getting around to starting swim lessons (we only had a pool to use since last year, and lessons are very far away and hard to schedule), and that is the only way I can safely watch a 2, 4, and 6 year old non-swimmer by myself.

    Their father is not fond of the water, but I love it and could swim extremely well and all day by age 2. I'm kind of ashamed my kids can't.

    Answer by Tracys2 at 2:12 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • Have you told her about why we go in the water? My niece wanted to have nothing to do with water until i showed her pictures of beautiful tropical fish, and we "see" them all over our community pool.

    Answer by CoiaCuppcake at 4:26 PM on May. 5, 2011

  • well, not "breathe under water" LOL but learn that you can go underwater without drowning and how to do it.

    Comment by tnm786 (original poster) at 1:38 PM on May. 5, 2011