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Why Are Children Afraid To Put Their Face in The Water?

The Faceless Water

So Why Are Children Afraid To Put Their Face in The Water?

It's a question that occupies the mind of many a swim teacher and parents of children learning to swim, a lot.

Image of a little girl looking so innocent wearing her preferred swimming attire that she clearly want dad to buy for her, Saying, "Papa if you don't get these for me I wont come swimming with you."

I Won't Come And Swim With You

Of course, the question is not possible to answer succinctly because there are just too many factors that could contribute:
  • A fright around water
  • Parents afraid of the water
  • Seeing something traumatic to do with water
  • Something traumatic happens to them around water
  • Fear passed on by siblings or close friends
  • Another person's, well-intentioned but misguided attempt to teach swimming

The list could just go on and on but frankly, these are the exception, not the rule.

By far and away the most common reason why children are afraid to put their face in the water is simple fear of the unknown.

Their lack of experience in going under the water is the biggest factor for them being afraid to go under water. So all a teacher has to do is make the unknown known to them.


Of course, it would be nice if it really were simple but fear is never simple.

But the good news is, that regardless of the reason children are afraid to put their face in the water, the method for getting them to become familiar or dealing with any other reason for their fear, is the same.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Introduce Submersion in Gradual Steps

You really can't do better than introducing a child to putting their face underwater one small step at a time:
  1. The chin
  2. The mouth
  3. Then the tip of the nose
  4. The whole nose
  5. The eyes
  6. The ears
  7. The head

Sometimes, however, if not all the time, it is a good idea to do some preparation, particularly if the fear is intense.

Over the years I have used a number of techniques for this:

You have to have patience, respect and care for those you are working with and sometimes that will require a lot more work and understanding.

Of course, sometimes it's not just fear. Sometimes the fear is combined with stubbornness and that is another set of procedures.

So why are children afraid to put their faces in the water?
The answer is not straight forward but, however, you handle it one thing is critical: you must be consistent.

You cannot help a child overcome their fear of putting their face in the water unless they trust you and trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. So please:
"Say What You Are Going To Do
Do What You Said You Would Do".

Don't ever try to tick children into putting their faces in the water. It may work but one day it will backfire on you so bad that you will never forget it and the consequence for the child can be devastating. Don't do it.


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