Healthy Living

How to Help a Child Overcome a Fear of the Water

How to Help a Child Overcome a Fear of the Water


With patience, encouragement and safe exposure, you can help a child overcome their fear and learn to be confident in and around the water. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Create a safe and supportive environment. Develop familiarity and trust with water in a non-threatening way, such as playing with water toys, getting used to Coast-Guard-approved life vests or splashing in shallow water. Always supervise the non-swimmer and allow the child to lead the pace of water exposure. Reassure them along the way.

2. Consider professional instruction. Local Safety Around Water and YMCA swim lesson programs help you and your child develop life-saving skills and build confidence in and around different bodies of water. 

3. Progress gradually. Introduce deeper water and more challenging activities as the child becomes more competent and confident with their swim safety skills. Always stay within the child’s comfort zone and offer plenty of positive reinforcement and supervision.

4. Be patient and stay calm. Overcoming a fear of water takes time. Your own demeanor and attitude can influence how a child feels, so stay relaxed and positive during water-related activities. This will help you both feel more at ease.

By taking gradual steps, providing support and maintaining a positive and encouraging environment, you can help a child overcome their fear and develop the skills they need to become strong, confident swimmers.

Be Water Ready

At the Y, we are committed to building confidence in and around water through our Safety Around Water Program and swimming lessons for all ages, which are offered at locations across the country. Want to learn more about water safety for a fun and safe summer? Find a Safety Around Water class at your local Y and enroll today.