Summer is upon us and unfortunately, that means that there will be at least one local news story about a child drowning. It happens every year (too many times).
Typically, these are ruled as accidental deaths but occasionally there is a person held responsible for failing to provide appropriate supervision.
Swimming in fun. Drowning, even just talking about it as a means of prevention is not fun. Many of you won’t even want to read this week’s article because you don’t want to be lectured about drowning.
My child knows how to swim.
My child knows better than to go in the water without me.
My child doesn’t go anywhere where there is water.
This will never happen to me.”
The CDC reports that:
One way that you can reduce your child’s risk of drowning is to teach them to swim! Notice, I said “reduce” because a child that is known as a “good swimmer” is still a child and is still at risk for drowning.
Around this time of year, the video of Infant Rescue Swimming classes start popping up. I am always amazed to watch these videos of teeny, tiny babies swimming the length of the pool. You can watch an example of Baby Elizabeth swimming the length of pool here. Last summer, this video sparked a huge debate in a play therapy group about whether this child was “in distress” or “being traumatized.”
I personally think it is pretty cool. I also think that it requires very specific training and should not be attempted on your own. For more information about Infant Rescue Swimming go here. You can find traditional swimming lessons for your older children (usually 3 and up) if you just do a quick Google search.
Regardless of what age your child learned to swim, how often they are in the water, or your confidence in their ability…
The only way to prevent drownings is to SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE.
I am not a panicky type Mom. I fully believe that you can show confidence in your child’s ability in a pool without hovering every second and freaking out if they go under water. But, I get extremely annoyed when I see kids swimming unsupervised!
WITHIN ARMS REACH AT ALL TIMES
Supervision does not include
Remember, that statistic about OLDER children. They drown too! It is super easy for a child to get overexerted, dehydrated, swallow water and panic or have some other medical emergency while they are swimming.
My recommendation is to have an adult in the pool if there are children in the pool.
At the very least, an adult that is PREPARED TO GET WET at the edge of the pool at all times.
I can hear people who have pools at their house telling me that this is ridiculous. That they let their teens swim all the time and they are fine.
In fact, I did it. I was raised in Florida. I swam in our backyard pool unsupervised all.the.time.
And, some kids might really be safe in the pool unsupervised. Those kids are NEVER under the age of 5. NEVER. Just saying.
If you have lost a child due to drowning, my heart literally breaks for you. This post is not meant to be blaming or judgmental in anyway.
Like I said, a lot of really fantastic parents have dealt with this issue because young children are curious, they are fast, and they are stubborn.
I have three children three and under-they love the water! They can not swim. They are at high risk!
Please, swim! Enjoy your summer and get outside. Swimming is good exercise and being outside is hundred times better than staying inside and playing video games all summer.
Just be mindful of the risks and when people tell you that you are being paranoid, tell them that Jennifer Taylor said that they are not allowed to supervise your little swimmers.
Please share with someone that has a pool, a child, a grandchild, a friend with a child, a neighbor with a child…just share it!
And if you’re not already subscribed, do so here.
Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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