Who Cares? & Why Is My Child So Afraid?
Why is getting your face wet so important?
(1) Safety! In case of emergency, your child needs to know how to breathe or hold breath under water
(2) Once your face is in the water, you can float.
(3) Body position (a horizontal one) is key when learning to swim. Strokes are more hydrodynamically efficient when the neck is in line with the trunk (i.e. when the face in the water)
(4) Being completely submerged underwater heightens body awareness. For children with sensory and motor planning challenges, this gives the sensory system a huge boost.
Three main factors interfere with your child feeling comfortable with face in the water:
(1) EARS: Water in the ears feels or sounds uncomfortable. Stick your ear in the pool and focus on the sensation and sound. Now that you focus on it, isn’t it strange? For some children this takes getting used to.
(2) EYES: Water in the eyes feels uncomfortable. Some children have a fear of being unable to see, especially children who have a weak sense of body position in space and over-rely on the visual system.
(3) MOUTH/NOSE: Children who have not learned to hold their breath or blow bubbles through their noses and their mouths may have a fear of being unable to breath. Breath control and blowing bubbles should be taught explicitly!
The next three aqua OT blogs will discuss tips for addressing each factor. In the meantime, keep playing in the pool! The more you are in the pool having fun, the more likely your child is to experiment with getting his/her face wet.