Teach your child to swim

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's sad but true that too many children drown needlessly every year, and too many parents are either resistant to teaching their toddlers to swim, or teach them the wrong way.

No child has to ever drown in a swimming pool if they are taught how to survive in the water the right way and at the earliest possible age.

Drowning is actually the second leading cause of accidental death in the country. It is leading in Florida and a few other states, and the real tragedy is that most every child who drowns could have been saved by simply being taught to swim correctly.

Life-saving tips for teaching kids to swim include:

*Start Young -- New studies show that the best age to teach a child to swim is between the ages of six and 12 months. Just as parents are learning this is a good time to teach children how to read, they are beginning to understand this is a time when children are able to absorb information like sponges. Teaching them to swim at this early age is a great way to make swimming second nature to them.

*Float to Survive -- As a supplement to safeguarding your kids through extra vigilant supervision and a safety gate around the pool, focus on giving your child the best lifesaving tool you could offer them -- the ability to survive in the water. The first gift to give children when you teach them is the ability to float on their backs. This is the most important survival skill of all. This enables all swimmers to rest, breathe and call for help, thus alleviating the "silent" danger of floating face down.

*Gentle and Fun -- Swimming will come more naturally to children who are taught gently, without trauma, and with a sense of fun. You cannot teach a 2-year-old not to go near the swimming pool. You cannot teach them that the pool is dangerous. Parents see the swimming pool as a potential death trap for their kids, but all kids see is a big, wet playground. You're not going to change their opinion, so stop trying. Focus on calm, gentle fun, and your kids will take to their lessons like fish to water.

While it's important for them to feel confident in the water, parents and instructors need to help temper that confidence with a strong sense of safety and good judgment.