Overcoming the Water Wobbles

If you’ve just got back from your family summer holiday with a tired and frustrated toddler, you’re not the only one. Keeping them entertained every day, whilst still trying to fit in your own rest and relaxation is no mean feat. If your little one is a happy and confident swimmer, then you most probably spent 98% of your break trying to lure them out of the pool, but what do you do if your child is afraid of the water?

Karla Hodgetts-Tate’s two-year-old daughter, Caoimhe, is absolutely obsessed with swimming. She spent most of their family trip to Spain splashing around in the pool with her dad and there is nothing she enjoys more than her weekly Water Babies lesson with her mum. But this wasn’t always the case, as Karla explains,

“Caoimhe hated the water from day one. We took her to her first Water Babies class when she was three months old and she screamed the place down. Watching your tiny little baby in such distress is just heart breaking, but I was adamant she was going to learn to swim. It was hard work. It took months of perseverance and patience for her to relax in the pool and with the support of our wonderful teacher, Emma, we’ve come out of the Water Wobbles phase- in fact, Caoimhe now loves swimming more than any other child I know!”

If you can relate to Karla’s struggle with Caoimhe’s confidence in the water, follow these handy tips from Caoimhe’s Water Babies teacher, Emma, on how to overcome the Water Wobbles!

What are the Water Wobbles?
“Some children can develop an aversion to water when they reach about 8-months old. This is a common developmental phase and can see children becoming overly dependent on their parents and seeming to fear activities they once loved – including swimming! This phase is sometimes known as the junior toddler phase. You might your child demonstrating conflicting behaviours – off exploring and causing mischief one minute and clinging to you for dear life the next. These opposing behaviours and emotions are difficult for your child to deal with, leading to them sometimes ‘acting out’ in the pool,” explains Emma.

What can you do?
“The good news is, this is most likely a passing phase, so persevere!

1) Reassure them as much as possible. They almost have to learn all over again that the water is a safe place for them. Hold them a little closer to you in the pool and if you’re taking part in a lesson, calmly explain what the activity is and how you’ll do it together
2) Go at their pace. It can be tempting to try and rush over the things your child doesn’t like to do and get back to what they’re good at. But if you adapt the activities they struggle with to suit their confidence levels, you’ll see an improvement in no time at all. For example, if they’re frightened to jump in from the side of the pool offer a supporting hand or suggest they slide in slowly to begin with
3) Remind your child that swimming is fun, by rewarding them for doing something well and encouraging them as much as you can
4) Check that it isn’t a ‘bad time of day’ for your little one. Are they swimming straight after another activity, leaving them feeling tired and uncooperative? If this is the case, it might be worth rethinking your usual schedule
5) Be patient and stay calm. It’s a frustrating time for the both of you, especially if your child previously loved the water.

Above all, don’t lose faith because it won’t last forever – nine times out of ten, children who have gone through this phase become even stronger swimmers than those who didn’t,” says Emma.

Pushing through the Water Wobbles was the best thing Karla could have done for her little girl, Caoimhe, and their weekly Water Babies class is now back to being the highlight of their week!

“Caoimhe’s confidence, in and out of the pool, never fails to amaze me, especially when I compare her to those awful few months. I was so close to giving up, but with Emma’s encouragement, we pushed through it and now we have so much fun splashing around in the pool together. “


Editors notes:
For more information, please contact 07895 876745

Image attached – A photo taken at a Water Babies underwater photo shoot.

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About Water Babies

In a nutshell, we teach water confidence and safety skills to babies and toddlers. However, we're about so much more besides. Our classes are great for making new friends, helping to enhance the bonding process, having fun... and seeing the utter thrill of your little one gliding underwater towards you.

In the last three years alone we know our lessons were directly responsible for saving the lives of ten little ones who otherwise might have tragically drowned. That makes us very proud.

And we like raising money for other babies. To date, we've raised over £750,000 for Tommy's. And we're aiming to raise another £200,000 for them (possibly!) this coming summer.