My son started out well, loving the sea, but by 3 years old, I became so busy with my business and teaching other children to swim, plus running a sustainable seafood bar and the rest, ( as a single parent ) we lost our rhythm. Then, someone we were both close to drowned. I was determined not to have this loss affect his connection to the sea and refocus on his water safety skills. Today, we are running a two week ocean camp for primary schoolers and Ezra is water confident again, he is swimming with his buddies and knowledgeable about our ocean backyard.
This process inspired me to share 7 tips on how we can all help our children overcome their fear of the sea.
1. Check your own reactions and language
How do you react to the sea? Are your children picking up on your own feelings or fear based language.
2. Interact with the sea from a distance
Take photos of your children at the sea; make sandcastles; play with them at the shore. Look at pictures of sea life in a book; learn to identify them. Check them out in aquariums; draw sea life with funny features; play with toy sea animals. Buy kids ocean themed school gear and clothing.
3. Make the sea interesting
Teach your children fun facts about different marine animals, for eg. a turtle's shell is a part of it skeleton or parrot fish poo sand.
4. Talk about and model appropriate interaction
Stay calm when the waves break on you; practice playing in the shallows; identify harmful and harmless sea life such as algae, urchins and fire coral.
5. Talk about the importance of our ocean
Teach your children about different marine life and the roles they play in our lives and for the health of our ocean. Explain how vital they are to our existence and how they protect us from strong storm surges in the hurricane seasons.
6. Be patient, let them set the pace
Fear isn't always natural so take time to understand your child's feelings, don't rush it and give them time.
7. Learn to swim or have your children join ocean clubs like Fish 'N Fins. You'll both feel better for it!