The risk of drowning scares many parents. And driven by fear parents can enroll in or try to “waterproof” their children through methods that causes trauma. Trauma is nothing you want your child to experience because it will have a lasting and damaging effect on its sensitive and developing brain.
Dear parent I don't write this to scare you. The anatomy of fear makes us unable to think and act as we would do when we are calm and sane. What is important is that you are aware of the risks when your child is in and around water. That you are aware of what you can do and do it. And I want you to be aware of quality when you enroll your child in a swim school.
Swimming is an education for life
On the blue planet where we live water covers most of the surface and therefor it is wise to let your child learn how to swim and practice swimming. It is an education for life. It can save your child's life, or someone else's for that matter. But learning to swim, enjoy water and feel confident is not a quick-fix and can and should not be forced.
The goal does not justify the means
The practice in the methods I am referring to that can cause trauma is to repetitively dunk an infant or a child under water and roll them over on their back to float. This continues until the child himself can roll over and stay afloat independently. During classes children cry helplessly for their parents help. With the remarkable adaptivity children are capable of even if they are hurt they eventually learn to mechanically perform the skill in silence.
Parents who feel insecure when their child cries are reassured by the “experts” that “the goal justifies the means”. It doesn't. These methods are nothing but child abuse and they should be banned.
It is often very confusing to the adult world how children respond to traumatic events. It's easy to dismiss the profound impact that a traumatic event has on the child because they do most things pretty well.
Trauma will sensitize the child's stress regulating system. It will also effect the sense of trust and endanger the secure attachment bond between a parent and its child.
To grow up healthy and with capability to handle distress your child needs to feel and experience that you are dependable and that it feels safe and secure with you.
Children who don't get soothed becomes less capable in handling distress
A child's cry is their way of communicating a need for help. They are experiencing a situation or strong emotions where they need their caretaker to save them or help them regulate. When an infant or child repeatedly are not soothed by their parents when they are in distress, or if it is the parents who are causing the distress, it impacts the chemical system of the child's brain. To compensate the lack of soothing by the parents the levels of cortisol rise to calm down the system.
The high levels of cortisol is dangerous to the child's brain tissue. It results in less capability to handle distress in the future. They become more prone to become upset and also to staying upset once they get upset.
Neurologists that study the brain see differences in children's brains (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/children/9637682/Whats-the-difference-between-these-two-brains.html)
A child is never safe around water – it needs you!
Even if your child is confident in and around water your child still needs you to keep him/her safe. If you recognize and are aware of that - your child is much safer. Children live in the moment and when something interesting happens or catches their interest they are off. They have less experience and they have not yet the ability to understand consequences. The part of the brain that will be able to calculate risk and consequences is not fully developed until we are 22-25 years old. Therefor children and young adults need responsible adults to keep them as safe as possible.
- Identifying risks and making sure the area is as safe as possible
- Make sure your child practices swimming continuously
- Educate yourself in CPR and first-aid
- Be a good role-model - remember... children do what we do...
For more information on safety around water visit:
If there is a link you would like me to add – send me a message.
Look for a quality swim school with a happy caring approach
It is within safe, present and loving relationships that children learn and develop best. Swimming is a skill for life. It takes time to learn and children need safe and caring teachers along with time to practice to develop into confident swimmers.
Look for a quality program. It should be a happy and caring environment where the teaching is playful and fun for the children. It is through play and practice a child learns best and will become a confident swimmer.
If it brings a smile to your face and feels good it probably is good.
Today there are many swim schools around the world that's developed into great learning environments for children. If you can enroll your child to one of those quality programs it will be one of your best investments for your child. It will not only give your child a skill for life but also add capital in many other areas.
Which swim schools would you recommend and why?