How to Teach Your 3 Year Old to Swim

Greetings, parents! You’ve passed the infant stage and are now the proud owner of a toddler. The ability to swim is one of the most important life skills you can give your child. 

Every family will spend time close to a body of water, whether it is at a public pool, a private location, or on a boat excursion. And with that comes the risk of getting in the water, whether you want to or not.

Why start teaching a child to swim at the age of 3?

Not every child is prepared to begin swimming lessons at the same age since children develop at varying speed. According to recent study, swim lessons and training in water survival techniques can lower the risk of drowning in kids between the ages of 1-4.

Both parents and children should attend lessons for kids under four, such as baby aquatics classes, so that everyone may develop excellent water safety behaviors.

Take into account your child’s emotional growth, physical and developmental potential, and comfort level in the water. It is a good idea to start teaching straight away if your youngster seems to be ready.

Particularities of starting swimming at the age of 3

1. Water Safety for kids

  • Do not swim alone. This prevents unexpected drownings.
  • Children should always be watched while they are swimming. This means putting down your phone, your book, your magazine, or anything else that could be a distraction.
  • Avoid playing breath-holding games. Children are easily swayed and could actively engage in a game without being conscious of the dangers associated with holding their breath underwater.
  •  Wear a life vest. It is always suggested that you get your child a life vest if they have not yet acquired the skill of swimming.
  • Do not risk your own life to help a friend. Drowning victims will cling to anybody and everything in order to avoid drowning. This frequently results in the deaths of both the sufferer and the rescuer.

2. Prevent Fear of Water

The fear of the water is one of the major obstacles that parents face while starting swim lessons. Children often don’t develop a fear of water until they’re about 2 years old.

It’s much easier to teach a youngster to swim before they have a fear of the water than to try to change their mind once they’ve already formed one. If this is your case, it’s better to consider private lessons with professionals.

3. Interactions with Others and Social Aptitude

Whether you take private or group swimming lessons, you’ll benefit from the social interactions that take place. Your kid will still pick up social skills and the ability to follow directions from an instructor, even if they’re working one-on-one.

The skills they develop in group settings transfer well to any social setting. Taking up swimming classes at a young age has been linked to a child’s accelerated social development.

This could be due to the physical benefits of swimming or to the child’s increased confidence in talking with others.

4. Improve Motor Skills

Studies have shown that many children who begin swimming at a young age are several months ahead of the curve when it comes to motor skill development, which is to be expected given the benefits of regular exercise in general for children’s cognitive and physical growth.

As a result, kids can run, jump, draw, write, and construct with blocks, all of which are crucial life skills. Swimming improves total-body strength, enhancing stability and motor control.

5. Rewards in the Classroom

Swimming classes are not only good for your child’s physical health, but also for his or her brain. Research shows that exercising both sides of the body at the same time helps the brain develop by stimulating the growth of neurons.

Reading, spatial awareness, and language development are just a few of the many crucial academic abilities that benefit from this.

Your child’s ability to focus and follow directions from a teacher will improve in any educational setting, and swimming classes will help with both of these issues.

5. Boost Self-Esteem

Swimming is one of the best activities for children because it allows them to burn off some of their excess energy and get some of their frustrations out in a healthy way. As they gain water confidence from lessons, their self-esteem rises.

Your child can avoid destructive behaviors and regularly interact with kids who share their interests if they have a healthy sense of self-worth.

What is the ideal location to start swimming lessons?

If you’re lucky enough to have a relative, friend, or friendly neighbor with a pool—or your very own, then finding a spot to teach your child to swim will be a piece of cake. But if not, there are plenty of other options.

Try your local community centers, schools (especially universities), and sports clubs. They most likely offer swim lessons for children and/or have day passes or membership opportunities so that you can swim with your child.

Additionally, you can find a certified instructor in the SwimRight Academy. Visit one of our locations in LA to evaluate your child’s level.

Swim Gear for Toddlers

Swimsuits: What should a 3 year old wear for swimming?

Good swimsuits are well-fitted and made of durable material that won’t slow them down. Avoid bleach and washing swimsuits with underwear and pajamas. Swimwear needs special care.

Always rinse swimsuits to remove chlorine. Long-term chlorine and moisture exposure shortens the life of swimsuits. Cold water and mild detergent clean their swimsuits. Delicates detergent or vinegar will work.

Let them sit for 30 minutes, scrubbing stains as needed, then rinse in cold water. Squeeze dry and lay flat on a towel or other water-safe surface. Wait 24 hours before storing or wearing. Never dry swimwear, even if you think it’s safe.

Boys’ and men’s swimwear has less spandex and can be machine-washed, but it should still be treated with care.

Babies Swim Accessories

Swim caps conform to the head’s shape without compressing hair due to their elasticity. Rinse and dry a swim cap after every use to extend its life.

Roll a towel inside to absorb excess water. Keeping a swim cap dry prevents mold and bacteria growth.

Use low-maintenance goggles; less handling is preferable. Rinse and dry between uses. After they’re dry, store them in a case. Don’t touch goggles’ lenses. This can scratch and ruin them.

Between uses, rinse, dry, and store buoys and fins in the shade.

Parent-led swimming lessons. What to begin with?

Guidance on Water Safety

  • Your child may be so happy in the water that they think they can swim on their own. Their optimism is awesome, but don’t leave them unsupervised for even a minute. Around water, they need to be closely watched by an adult.
  • Ensure the gate to the pool is always locked and that you can’t reach the clamp. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says this is because the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 69% of children under 5 years old who drowned were not expected to be in the water at the time.
  • Emphasize the importance of basic pool safety, such as not running near the pool and only entering the water with an adult.
  • Water wings, air-filled swimsuits, and inflatable flotation toys should be avoided. These items can give them (and you) a false sense of security. 
  • After your baby exits the pool, remove any toys. If they reach for them, they can accidentally fall in.

1. Play then Teach

If your toddler’s first swimming experience involves being dunked, she probably won’t like it. This mistake took years to fix with my older daughter.

Teach your children to love the water if you want them to master swimming. Let them play when you first take them swimming.

Sit with them on the steps and let them splash and climb. Make their first water experience fun and enjoyable.

2. Make Them Trust You First

Before the first swimming lesson, be sure to make it clear that nothing will be done without first asking them. “I’ll take you into the water, but I won’t let go,” you should say before helping them off the step.

Reassure them that you have them and that they can put their trust in you as you trudge slowly into deeper water. If they do not believe in you, they will not learn to swim.

3. “Listen to the Fishes”

Kids dislike having their ears underwater while swimming. On that first trip, show your toddler how to “listen to the fishes” by submerging one ear, then the other.

Ask them what fish sounds they heard and make up silly ones together. Once they’re comfortable with their ears underwater, going completely underwater will be easier (for both of you).

4. Get Them Used to Lean Forward, Not Backward

Unless you start by teaching your child to float on their back, get them used to leaning forward in the water with their feet behind them for propulsion. Puddle jumpers are convenient and safe, but they prevent toddlers from leaning forward.

Arm floaties can replace puddle jumpers. Tell them you’ll lean them forward without getting their face wet, then do so gently.

Show them how to scoop water to move forward before having them kick their back legs.

5. Blow in Their Faces Before Taking Them Under

After a week of practicing the above steps, teach your child to dive. Remind them you’ll tell them first. Then count to three, blow in their face, and submerge their head.

Blowing in their faces causes automatic breath-holding, so do it before submerging them. On the way down, rotate them 180 degrees so water rushes across their face rather than up their nose.

How to  Teach Your Child to Love the Water

Learn these rules before training your youngster to swim.

  • Be near your child in the pool.
  • Take them if you must leave.
  • Your child’s teacher should know CPR and how to swim.
  • Avoid using floaties with your youngster.

Step 1. Keep them calm

Having fun is the main objective while taking your kid to the pool, especially if they’re nervous or worried in any way. Therefore, in the beginning phases, the fundamentals of swimming are secondary.

A calm and unhurried attitude is necessary. Your youngster will be at ease if you are. The likelihood is that if you’re having fun, they will as well.

Step 2. Kicks

Typically, training a youngster to swim begins with having them kick with their legs. The majority of kids can do it or will if demonstrated, and most find it amusing to try and see how big of a splash their feet can generate.

The first step in helping youngsters stay afloat is to help them balance out their body because many kids let their legs sink. They immediately discover that by kicking their legs, they can move through the water.

Step 3. Breathing

Teach your youngster to blow bubbles once they’ve mastered kicking. This can be done in the bathtub. Ask them to hold their breath and put their mouth in the water, then their nose, then their arms and legs. 

This lesson may flummox kids. Do it with them so they can see your eyes and hair are dry. Little ones think swimming goggles are cool and allow them to see underwater. It’s a game changer.

If they can hold their breath, they’ll put their faces and heads underwater.

Step 4. Arms

Once they’re comfortable putting their face in the water, teach them to swim with their arms. Alternating leg kicks and hand/arm reaches/pulls. Using arms and legs together will become second nature.

Step 5. Play games

Making swimming lessons into a game is one of the finest methods to help make learning enjoyable. Invite them to swim farther, pass through a hula hoop, or retrieve dive sticks from the pool’s bottom. To encourage your youngster to learn to swim, use toys, floaties, and races.

Children are obviously more inclined than adults to disobey a parent. This is why your child will advance if you combine your own sessions with swimming lessons from a professional.

Each child is unique, but the more often they attend courses, the more quickly they pick things up.

When Your Child Need Professional Swimming Lessons?

  • Anxious first-time swimmers and babies with special needs. This type of lesson is necessary for infants and students who are not water safe and require more attention, like anxious first-time swimmers and babies with special needs. Once the anxiety or behavior is overcome, the child can fit happily into a group lesson.
  • If you pursue efficiency. Swim instructors know the correct progressions for each stroke, rather than just ‘put your head down and move your arms. A child taking professional swimming lessons will likely learn from a certified instructor.
  • Disciplining. When a parent is speaking to them, especially if they are trying to teach them something, kids often “tune out”. Many swim coaches did send their kids to lessons with other instructors.

Where to Find Swimming Lessons for a 3 Year Old

If you have a relative, friend, neighbor, or your own pool, teaching your child to swim will be easy. If not, other options exist. Try community centers, schools, and sports clubs. Many offer swim lessons, day passes, or memberships so you can swim with your child.

Author: Lenny Krayzelburg, 4 time Olympic Gold Medalist, SwimRight Academy

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