HELP my 5 year old is afraid of swimming!

Felicia - posted on 05/21/2009 ( 18 moms have responded )

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My five year old son is afraid of of swimming. He will only "swim" in a hottub or bathtub. He will not go in a pool, river, creek, or the ocean! He loved to swim anywhere and everywhere when he was only 18months old but has been to scared ever since. I didn't think to much about the fear when he was 3 and 4, but now he is FIVE.....all of friends and all the kids in our family ( age ranging from 2-10) love to swim and besides the two year old they all know how to swim on their own. Please help me with your opinions and/or suggestions!

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Katy - posted on 01/23/2013

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Have you tried talking to him about it? Maybe something had happened when he was younger and you did not know, could that be the reason? Also you should try and help him overcome fears, but do not push him

Patricia - posted on 12/10/2012

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Our Daughter is 10 and even though she finally sorta learned how to swim she has a huge fear of getting her face wet or going under. I am not sure why. Nothing has ever happened. She has never liked the water that much since she was a baby. I refuse to push her too much for fear she will never go in the water again.

Kylee - posted on 12/10/2012

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Hi Felicia,



My daughter is 6 years of age and I have booked her in for Swimming lessons and the teachers are trying again today after yesterday she would not get in the pool at all when she was younger she loved the pool. The swimming instructor couldn't get her in either, they are trying again today with Incentives. Hopefully that will work if not I will be going with her for swimming lessons or I might have to book one on one swimming lessons with her and her little brother down at the local pools. GOOD LUCK I am hoping for good news today that my daughter finally went in today!

Jill - posted on 06/15/2012

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He's normal and not unusual. Keep giving him opportunities, but don't try to force it. I know kids that barely went near water until they were 10+ years and were finally able to move beyond the fear.

Fatima - posted on 06/14/2012

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I have the same problem for my 4 years old kid- i took him to swimming lessons, 1st day he was so excited and having fun from the other kids who feel afraid but 2nd day himself got afraid till now he is refusing to go to the swimming lessons.
at home he is enjoying playing in the water and i am using for him bubbles but in the lessons totally refusing and screaming badly.
Nothing happened to him so he don't have any bad experiance but i don;t know why.
I am totally confused :S

Crystal - posted on 06/26/2009

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Quoting Heather:

HA!!! I have the same problem with my 4 year old little boy! Only I know why, his biological father and his family would dump water over my son's face to wash his hair when he was little and he would freak! Now, he is terrified to get water in or near his face... he actually went swimming sunday with us because all his little friends were swimming, but freaks when water goes anywhere near his face! My son is doing swim lesson, started Tuesday of this week... all I can say is good luck (for both of us)! :)



My almost 5 yr. old hates having water get in his eyes so I hear ya on the bathtime "fun." I just finally got him to keep goggles on (after 3 tries of finding a good pair)  and teamed up with swim lessons and almost daily trips to the pool, he's doing great! I can't get him to keep his face OUT of the water now! I also never gave in to his not wanting to swim or get his head wet. I would ask him to do baby steps...like do 1 bob for me before we leave. That seemed to help also.

Felicia - posted on 05/27/2009

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No he is just scared of many things. He was afraid to put his hand in the touch tank at the aquarium even though swarms of other kids were....I guess he is just one of those kids who is afriad of things.

[deleted account]

HA!!! I have the same problem with my 4 year old little boy! Only I know why, his biological father and his family would dump water over my son's face to wash his hair when he was little and he would freak! Now, he is terrified to get water in or near his face... he actually went swimming sunday with us because all his little friends were swimming, but freaks when water goes anywhere near his face! My son is doing swim lesson, started Tuesday of this week... all I can say is good luck (for both of us)! :)

Swati - posted on 05/26/2009

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My son had a tumble bumble when he was 2 and then did get a fear of the water...what i did was sit with him by the water...wetting feet...going inside tightly hugged and jumping and playing with him all the time tighly hugged and secure...he came around within 2 weeks and loves the pool now....

Jodi - posted on 05/26/2009

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I am still trying to get my 5 year old daughter to swim..lol! She won't go in the water without a life jacket on. She loves swimming in the bathtub, and has a fear of swimming in the lake, so if you happen to get any advice that works, please let me know..Thanks

Mary - posted on 05/25/2009

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My 5 year old is having the same problem. We went to the lake with him this last weekend and he was all excited about swimming. I thought we were making progress until he got down to the water. He had a life-vest on but still screamed and nearly climbed up my leg trying to get out after he jumped in and he was only in waist-deep water. He's lived out by the coast and so he's fine in the ocean body surfing with waves going completely over his head, but for some reason lakes, rivers and pools terrify him. I don't get it... Sometimes I think it's just to get my attention (he has a new baby brother) but the fear in his eyes this weekend seemed real, so I don't know...

Anita - posted on 05/24/2009

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don't worry he could be afraid of the deep or have a fear of drowning, i feel he will grow out of that fear in time, i was aslo terrified of swimming at your sons age a feared the deep and aslo drowning. it might help if you are in the water with him or put floaties on him so he can feel secure.

Adriennne - posted on 05/24/2009

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Hi Felicia. My son will be 6 on the 28th. He was fine when he was little, but has been terrified of swimming lately like your son. He would only sit on the steps of the pool and not even want me to hold him in the water. It was so weird though b/c a couple weeks ago he said that he wanted to go swimming. He went to the pool with two friends and he had a blast. The pool was only 4 feet deep so he felt somewhat comfortable, plus he didn't want to look scared in front of his friends. I just signed him up for swimming lessons for the summer. Sometimes it's better to have someone else teach them for some reason. He is looking forward to the lessons. Don't push him, just let him come around on his own. Offer the lessons though. I don't think that it will be a waste. Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 05/24/2009

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Have you tried positive rewards for any small steps showing interest? First start with sitting with his feet in the water. When he does it, even for a few seconds, make a huge deal and give positive reinforcement. When he is comfortable with just his feet in, ask him to go a little further, as soon as he does, give lots of positive reinforcement. As he gets more and more comfortable, increase how much he has to be in before he gets the positive reinforcement. Also once he is comfortable just being in the water, then you can work on teaching him to swim. It may take some time, but he'll begin to associate the positives with swimming and going into the water which will make it enjoyable for him. Hope this helps.

Felicia - posted on 05/21/2009

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Nothing has ever happened to make him scared of the water...that is why it is such a mystery to me. I have thought about swim lessons at our local YMCA but he is around tons of swimming children on a regular basis and I'm afraid of wasting my money.

MELISSA - posted on 05/21/2009

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First off did something happen to make him scared of the water? My daughter was scared of the water at first but she loves it now. She is 5 and we take her to swimming lessons at the YMCA. They have a great program and let the kids learn at there own pace. They use what are called bubbles for them to swim. They are four foam pads that are straped to there back as they swim. You can get them for 10.00 at most YMCA's. The best thing I think they have tought us is to get into the water with the child as you hold them tell them you are going to go under on the count of 3. Count to 3 and both you and the child while they hold on to you go under the water just engough to cover there head with the water pop up quickly and quickly is the key do not hold them under the water. It is very important to be very over simley and happy when you come up so the child see's you are not afraid.

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