How to help your child overcome their fear of water

Helping your child overcome their fear of water can feel like a daunting task. It is tough to see them so afraid, but there are a few different things you can do to help them with their fear. We will bring you a few tips and tricks to help your child overcome their fear of water in no time.

Why are kids afraid of water?

A fear of water in children typically develops in the toddler and preschool years, as babies don’t have enough awareness of water being something they need to fear and are quite happy to splash around in any form of water they can, be it a bath, the pool ocean, or the ocean.

As children grow out of the baby phase and move into being a toddler, it is at this point that the fear of water develops.  There are a few reasons they may develop a fear, including: 

  • Fear of the unknown: Not being able to touch their feet off the bottom of the pool can unnerve many people, children included. 
  • The sudden realisation of the amount of water. As there is so much water surrounding them, they suddenly fear the danger of the water
  • They are too young to rationalise their fears and look at large bodies of water as something to be afraid of

These are the more irrational fears children have of water, where they don’t know why they are afraid, just that they are. There are other experiences that will have your child frightened of water, such as: 

  • Having a bad experience with water where they went under during a bath or took in water an incorrect way which led to their fear of water
  • Some children are prone to sensory overload, and the loud sounds of a pool can have them develop a fear of water. 

How to teach a child that is afraid of water 

tips for helping them overcome their fear

Knowing the cause of your child’s fear of water is the first step in helping them overcome it. From there, you can develop a strategy to gently teach your child there is nothing to be afraid of and help them overcome their fear. 

Gradual immersion

Just like the name suggests, gradually working your way up to being in a pool, you can start small by putting your feet into the water and sitting on the top step, so they are only in a tiny amount of water. The next day brings the water to their shins, then knees and up until they are fully immersed. 

Sometimes children can panic, and you may have to go back a step, but that’s okay. It is about making them comfortable and confident in the water.

Fun tools

Having special water tools to help you, such as fun goggles, a swimsuit with their favourite character, and a pool noodle will keep their interest in the pool. These will give them an incentive to go further into the pool, and the pool noodle will provide them with some security. It is important to note that you should never leave a child unattended in a pool, even if they have flotation devices on or around them.

Swimming lessons

Sometimes it’s better to outsource lessons to other, competent adults who are trained to help your children overcome their fears and gain confidence. Children can be more likely to listen to a swim instructor than their parents, and the instructor has the skills needed to ease them into the water and their lessons. 

You can book swim lessons at Gym Plus and explain what you need help with. We have expert instructors on hand to help with helping children overcome their fear of water.


The most important tip we can give is communication. Explain to your child what you are doing and what you will be doing next. Take the fear out of each lesson by explaining what they will be learning and how. Children, like adults, like to know what is happening and what they are doing during the lesson.

Make it fun

You have to make the lessons fun for children; otherwise, it is something they will approach with dread. If you start the lesson by playing in the pool and end it by playing with them in the pool, it will help them see that water is something that can be fun and isn’t something to fear at all.


It is natural to try and urge them to overcome their fear, but if you feel you can’t help them, don’t be afraid to reach out to an instructor and explain the issue. Learning to swim is a necessary skill, and everyone should know it. Teaching your children is something that you should do as early as possible. 


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