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Last week I was invited along to a Fusion Mother and Baby confidence swimming lesson, unfortunately we were unable to make the lesson, but I wanted to share with you the tips that I would have learnt if I had been able to attend.

At Fusion Lifestyle, registered charity and leisure provider, we understand that for most mums ensuring their kids are confident and happy in the water is a top priority. If you or your child have a fear of water this is not always the easiest thing to tackle. Fusion teaches over 46,000 children to swim every year and, with the highest quality teachers, we pride ourselves on having one of the safest and most credible swimming programmes in the country.

We’ve compiled a list of top ten tips for parents on do’s and don'ts's to improve your child’s confidence in the water.

1. Be prepared
Before your first trip to the pool there are some handy essentials we’d recommend having ready.

• Towels for you both – a hooded towel for them to help keep them warm after getting out the pool can be handy
• Swimming nappies – these come in both reusable and disposable varieties, so you can pick what suits your family
• An insulated bodysuit /costume for them – babies can get cold in the pool which can affect their mood, so insulated bodysuits can be a good idea
• A snack as swimming can make them hungry and can be a good reward mechanism

2. Getting their faces wet
Even confident babies can find the thought of getting their faces wet, or putting them underwater, unappealing. If your child dislikes getting their face splashed, then before you go to the swimming pool or on holiday start with simple things in the bath. If they’re a baby, gently trickle water down their face while you bathe them.
Or, if they are slightly older, encourage a water-blowing contest and get your child to blow bubbles on the surface of the water and make it fun. If they don’t like getting water in their eyes then goggles are the perfect tip to help them keep their eyes dry and gives you the chance to remove anything that makes the experience bad for your kids.

3. Encourage your child
Children develop at different rates, in terms of size, strength, co-ordination, emotional and intellectual maturity and just about everything else.
Encourage your child to keep going and celebrate their time in the water this will give them the confidence they need to keep going. If they are learning to swim then encourage them to compete against themselves, and to measure themselves against only their own best efforts. If they do win and beat everyone else, it’s a bonus!

4. If they are nervous help them get familiar with the water
For babies and toddlers, early swimming experiences can be hit or miss, with some children downright refusing to get in the water.
The key is not to push it. If you are on holiday, it’s likely you’ll have the opportunity to try again without stressing or rushing your child. Take baby steps (literally) with your little one and gradually get them closer to the water, from sitting on the side to dipping toes in, without taking them out of their comfort zone.

5. Do be supportive – rain or shine!
Whether your child takes one day or one year to build their confidence, keep showing love and support. One of your most important roles as a swimming parent is to provide emotional support during the tough times, of which there will be many. Let your child know that they are still loved, no matter how much they struggle with swimming.

6. Don’t pressure your child
Remember that swimming is your child’s hobby. If your child has their own reasons and own goals for participating, they will be far more motivated to excel and therefore far more successful.
It is normal and healthy to want your child to excel and be as successful as possible, but parents cannot make this happen by pressuring them with expectations. Instead, you can encourage them and offer them unconditional support and guidance.

7. Don’t dangle carrots
Try to avoid extrinsic motivation (bribery!).
It’s important to be careful of the message you send out – swimmers should swim for themselves and for the positives the sport brings. When your child does well, try to praise them for what they did well, not the outcome that they achieved.

8. Make it fun
If you are helping your child practice swimming make it fun using games.
Animal Games can be a lot of fun and can help you child to gain much needed confidence as well as having fun in the water. As long as your child associates water with having fun you are on the right track.

9. Don’t push for Olympic or Paralympic glory
Maybe your child will become an Olympian, but for most this isn’t the case.
Encourage your child to be the best they can be and to enjoy swimming, but make sure both your and their expectations are not too set too high. It’s great to have goals and dreams, but the most important thing is that they are happy. If they are happy the good performances will come naturally.

10. Do respect the coach
Trust the coach or teacher to do their job.
If you have any questions about something your child’s coach is doing or saying in the sessions, it is usually ok to ask. However, their attention will be on the swimmers they are coaching during session times, so try and grab a word with them before or after the lesson. Remember that a huge number of coaching staff are giving their time voluntarily and are keen to get the best out of every one of their swimmers!

You can find more info on the swimming classes here.


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