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Teaching A Toddler To Swim Tip: Holding The Back Of The Head

Teaching A Toddler To Swim Paddling Tip

I have noticed from time to time, that some swim teachers when teaching a toddler to swim, have trouble finding a place to push a child so that it is helpful in encouraging them to paddle better.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Pushing paddling children in or on the centre of their back is very commonly used but often has the result of pushing them under the water as well as forward. And trying to grab a child under the armpits is a bit ticklish (pun intended). It's just plain hard to do when they are in the water paddling or trying to.

Reaching under their tummy with the slightest of lifts works but has the disadvantage of them thinking you are trying to get them to lift their head out of the water when you have no such intention.

You could try using both hands and hold both sides of their head but then you end up pulling them in the water rather than pushing them which is no different from pushing them I guess. Still, it's not my favorite option, as it kind of traps the head for a moment and I don't like their head to be, or even feel trapped.

The Best Place I Have Found

The best place I have found is just under the Occipital bone under the back of the head. It gives that little push and encourages better paddling.

Image of the back of a child head marking the place of the Occipital, to push and lift up: A Teaching A Toddler To Swim Tip
Push And Lift Up Under The Occipital Bone

All you do is place a couple of fingers just under the bone and lift as you push. The natural reflex of most children is to move their head towards the finger that is touching them, so they actually give a little bit of assistance whilst you do it.

Just A Little Push / Lift Up

Remember this is just a little push, a momentary action. You must NOT hold your fingers on a child's head for more than a second or 2 at the absolute most. To hold your fingers on their head for more than a moment risks frightening the child because they cannot lift their head out of the water when they want to in order to breath.

More than that, if you hold for more than a second or two at the absolute most, you risk pushing the child's head further underwater than is desirable. A child's head pushed too far underwater, is not only making their swim less efficient, but it also makes it harder for them to lift their head to take a breath.

The action of your hand should be a forward lifting action. Something like the action you have as you lift something out of the water with your fingers

Anyway I find it useful and perhaps it is worth you trying. Just be careful with it.


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