Whether you have an in-ground pool or only a bathtub, practicing and teaching water safety is always important. Here are some tips on how you can do that with little kids (without going crazy).
Teaching Water Safety to Little Kids
When I first published this post about how to throw a splash party, I had several people on pinterest quite concerned that I would let my toddlers near giant tubs of water. They hadn’t read the post, of course, but they meant well. In truth, I was right next to them as I was the one taking the photos, and they had been informed of the rules of play beforehand.
But I could DEFINITELY have been more prepared. And so could my kids.
- Teach boundaries – Rather than just “don’t go near the water,” establish known reference points of what not to go past that is near the water, keeping kids away from danger entirely. It’s a good idea to have a fence at least 4ft high around any pool you might have at home. But if you’re somewhere that doesn’t have that, decide on a point that’s at LEAST 4ft away from the water, that the child shouldn’t go past without an adult. Toddlers don’t always respect boundaries, so clearly they’ll have to be watched more closely. However, preschoolers and beyond should be able to recognize this type of rule and follow it (though definitely judge the situation based on your child’s skill level).
- Teach safety skills – As soon as you feel comfortable, start teaching safe behavior in the water. This goes beyond basic swimming lessons. It’s teaching how to come back up to the surface if you are underwater, how to float, how to look for an exit. This infographic is an excellent source of info, but you can find more on Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen site, as well as their amazing app.
Water Safety Infographic
- Teach awareness – Knowing what’s around them and how it affects them is one of the best things you can teach your kids. Start early and point out important (and unimportant) things around the area–for instance, “Hey buddy, what’s that?” “Water!” “What do we know about water?…” This can even start before your child can talk, as you see them noticing things with their curious eyes and exploring fingers. Point out what colors things are, what they do, and what they need to be careful of (and a simplified version of why, if you like). Even if you feel like you’re repeating the same thing over and over, you’re becoming their inner voice.
- Stay close – Regardless of whatever else is going on, what friend is texting you or what cute pic of your little princess you just took and want to post on Instagram, always stay within arm’s reach of your young child. Unplug a bit, absorb these moments with that little boy or girl who is only going to be little once. You may save their life by being there to grab them at a millisecond’s notice. And it definitely doesn’t hurt to spend that little bit more quality time together. Your child already equates you with safety, so take that a step further.
Another thing you can do to help your child be safe around the water this summer is to take a CPR class. It’s even available online now! More about that here. As we always hear, it’s better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to safety risks and our prized possessions–our children.