The weather is getting hot, one of the most popular activities is water play. What do you do when your child is afraid of the water? I have heard from so many of the parents I work with that bath time is a nightmare! They have extremely negative reactions towards pool and bathtime. Here are some ways to help make water time less stressful.
Deep pressure prior to water play
Deep pressure provides a calming effect. If you have ever received a massage, you are able to relate. You feel calm and relaxed. I also explain to parents that frequently we use this technique without even realizing it. When you are stressed, angry, you will naturally squeeze your body. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, you don’t smile and say “thank you”. What do you do? You will grip the wheel tighter with your hands and you clench your jaw. Your body became overstimulated and to calm yourself, you gave yourself deep pressure. Some children will walk on their tippy-toes when they are overwhelmed. They are providing deep pressure into their calves to help calm them. Now you are able to utilize this information to help provide deep pressure for your child to help calm them prior to water play. Deep pressure massage, jumping on a trampoline, and bear hugs are great ways to give your child deep pressure.
Use water toys
Children love playing with toys that move, have visual stimulation, or have music. Use these in the pool. Toy fish that squirt water when you squeeze them, stacking cups that they can pour one into another, wind-up toys, or toys that spin when you add water are all great ways to keep your child happy and engaged while in the water.
Create a calming atmosphere
Parents have successfully utilized essential oils, calming music, and dimming the lights. All of these help to create a safe and calm environment for your child. It is important to have a calm environment to allow your child to feel secure and safe. As they build their confidence, their anxieties will diminish.
Have a towel ready to use
Part of the fear children have is getting water on their face. Having a towel ready to wipe away water, soap, or bubbles is a good tool. As you wipe away the irritant, make sure to use deep pressure. Use encouraging words like “all dry” and “it's okay” to ensure your child they are okay.
Knowing when the bath or pool time will take place can help your child be prepared. Put it on your visual board/schedule and stick to the same routine. This will help your child develop a routine, which is important. Having the same routine allows your child to know what is going to happen. As a result, fewer behaviors and less anxiety while increasing confidence.