Can you remember the first time you swam in the ocean? You might remember it being a fun experience with friends or family where fear didn’t cross your mind. You might remember it as being scary, overwhelming, and uncomfortable! Or you might not remember it being particularly eventful at all, you might not even remember when your first swim in the sea was… All of those responses are perfectly normal and understandable.
With an estimated 20% of the population experiencing some degree of fear of the water, there’s a chance that your little one might feel some fear of the deep ocean (particularly if they haven’t spent much time in the water before), and we’re pretty sure you’re here to learn how to help them through it! So let’s dive in and explore some of the ways you can support your child to overcome a fear of ocean depth.
How to Overcome a Fear of Ocean Depth
With the warmer weather on its way, you and your family may be planning to spend some time near the ocean - hurray! At Fulton Swim School, we’re on a mission to make sure that every Kiwi has the skills to stay safe in the water, and enjoy the pools, rivers, lakes, and of course, the beautiful beaches that New Zealand has to offer.
A fear of ocean depth doesn’t have to hold anyone back! There are plenty of ways you can help your child to overcome their fear and get them ready to enjoy our incredible country this summer. If you feel some uneasiness about being in deep sea water, you might find these tips helpful too!
Learn to Swim
Safety first! Before you or your child can overcome a fear of ocean depth, it’s important to learn how to stay safe in the water. We won’t sugar-coat it, sometimes the ocean can be dangerous, so swimming lessons are essential to minimise that risk.
We think that everyone would benefit from taking part in swimming lessons! Not only are swimming lessons great for physical and mental health, they’re heaps of fun too! And being a confident swimmer helps to make swimmers feel more in control while exploring the ocean, therefore minimising any feelings of fear.
Once your child is in the water, it’s important to help them regulate their emotions and stay calm so that they can focus on putting the skills they’ve learned in their swimming lessons to good use.
It’s just as important that you stay calm too, so that they can look to you for reassurance. If you feel nervous at the thought of getting in the ocean yourself, you might like to sign up for one of our adult classes. We’ll have you radiating confidence and swimming like a pro in no time - plus, it’s a great workout!
Take things gradually, there’s no need to jump in at the deep end! Maybe the first step to enjoying the ocean is to play in the sand, then maybe it’s to dip a toe in, after that, your child might be ready to walk in the water, and eventually, they’ll be ready to swim.
Go at their pace and give them lots of positive reinforcement!
In New Zealand we are incredibly lucky to have waters filled with diverse marine life, and many of the species that live in our oceans can’t be found anywhere else in the world!
Learning about the animals that live in the oceans around New Zealand might help to make the depths of the ocean less intimidating. You might enjoy reading about our aquatic creatures with your child and seeing what you can spot on your next trip to the beach. Just remember to be gentle with any creatures you find, and to avoid getting too close to any that aren’t friendly, like bluebottle jellyfish!
Make the most of it!
Make the most of your day in the ocean by going with trusted friends and family who will make the experience fun! Bring along some games, and get ready to make sandcastles and search for shells - turn it into a positive experience so no one has the time to feel fear of the ocean depths.
Just keep swimming
Don’t give up, but also don’t force it. Swimming in the ocean should be a fun activity that your child looks forward to!
Setbacks happen and that’s okay. Overcoming fear isn’t a linear process, but you can help to ensure your child doesn’t slip back into their fears over the colder months by keeping up swimming lessons and making sure that getting in the water is still something fun that they look forward to.
And, of course, don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you or your child is struggling to overcome a severe fear of the ocean.
Overcoming a fear of ocean depths is a big undertaking, and your little one is a legend for doing it! So make sure that they know that you’re proud of them for sticking at their swimming lessons, staying calm in the water, getting curious, making the most of it, and never giving up!
Remember to swim between the flags, know your own limits, and keep a close watch on your children - the tides can turn quickly, so it’s always best to be prepared.
…And don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, and wrap whenever you’re out in the sun!
We’re confident you’ll have an incredible ocean explorer in your midsts in no time - if we can help you to help your child get there, we’d love to hear from you, or see you at one of our swim schools - happy swimming!