Helping your child to develop confidence in the water

It’s always great fun to get outdoors in the summertime, when the weather is hot and you can visit the beach with your family and cool off. Armed with your latest swimwear outfit, sunscreen, hat and beach umbrella… plus your children, you can look forward to relaxing while your kids are swimming at the water’s edge.

However, if your baby hasn’t had baby swim lessons, or your child hasn’t learnt water safety skills or attended a swim school, jumping into the water when they’ve never been to swimming classes, can be fraught with danger.


How to build water confidence in your child

Water safely is paramount if you own a swimming pool or if you visit other people’s pools or public swimming pools or aquatic centres. You need to arm yourself with a water safety plan, so you are well aware of the dangers around children swimming.

Adult supervision is very important as swimming pools can be extremely dangerous for adults and especially children. All children, from a very early age should participate in baby swim or in a learn-to-swim swimming program so they feel water confident when swimming.

However, even if you child or toddler participates in regular swimming lessons, guardians or parents need to be very alert and vigilant about water safety when children are swimming in the backyard pool.

Parents should never leave a child unattended in a swimming pool, bath or dam.

Swimming pools are dangerous places for children and toddlers. There is always a possibility for children to drown in backyard pools if unsupervised.

All parents or guardians who have swimming pools should learn CPR skills to safeguard their children and others when they are swimming at the beach or in a swimming pool.

Most swimming pool drownings of children generally happen when there are no adults in supervision. Even if children have had swimming lessons an adult should always be present during swimming activities.

When children learn water safety skills at their local aquatic centre, they will not only become water confident but will develop a lifelong skill that they can enjoy They can encourage others to participate in swimming lessons also.

Child Safety Around Water

Even if children are attending regular swimming lessons, parents still need to be vigilant about water safety at home. Children need to be continuously and actively supervised by a capable supervisor when in or near water. Never leave children unsupervised, especially in baths. The presence of other children or the use of flotation devices should not take the place of active adult supervision. For children under the age of five, this means being within arm’s reach at all times.

Plan and Prepare for Water Safety…

  • Install secure fencing around swimming pools
  • Install CPR and a Resuscitation Sign in pool area
  • Parents need to upgrade their swimming skills
  • Never swim alone in a pool or at the beach
  • Vigilantly supervise children when they are swimming
  • Never be distracted by a phone call at a pool
  • Learn CPR skills as it may save a life



2        LEARN CPR



5        DON’T SWIM ALONE.


It’s essential that kids have swimming lessons

Swimming pools are a lovely addition to any home. However, if you have a swimming pool and you are not a proficient swimmer, you need to take adult swimming classes… and also enrol your children into swimming classes.

Adult swimming lessons as well as swimming lessons for kids are generally available at your local aquatic centre.  

Make sure your young baby has baby swimming lessons also and that everyone is aware of the water safety rules. Baby swim classes are widely available during the day and are a must for saving young children’s lives when near water.

Swim centres offer learn-to-swim lessons to the community to assist in getting babies into the pool early. They have programs that can develop skills that could save their lives. Some swim schools offer free lessons for babies 3 to 6 months old, and structured lessons for all age groups, including adults, allowing them to progress into competitive or fitness squads. Some schools also offer free CPR training to parents.

So, the sooner you enrol your baby or toddler into a swim school program at the local aquatic centre, the earlier they will learn to swim and reap the health benefit of swimming classes.

It’s an easy skill to learn and can save a life!

Not only do children need to start swimming lessons early, but they also need to continue lessons throughout their primary years. It might get challenging, but swimming is a life or death skill, especially in a beach-oriented lifestyle. Children should not only learn to swim but should become strong swimmers


Swimming is a life skill… once learnt you have it for life.

Every child needs to develop swimming confidence

Swimming strengthens a baby or toddler’s self-esteem when they learn to swim early in life as it helps them overcome the fear of water. When children participate in regular swimming lessons, they gain confidence quickly and are more willing to take on more difficult swimming challenges. As they watch other people swimming, learning new swimming techniques in the same class, they are more likely to have a go also.

When children become involved in an aquatic centre swimming program, having regular swimming lessons they learn to swim far more quickly, and their swimming confidence grows quite rapidly.

Therefore, the earlier children have swimming lessons the better. They will not only develop new physical abilities, but it will greatly improve their cognitive abilities, mood, health and wellbeing.

Swimming is an important life skill, so the earlier you book your child into a swim school, where they learn freestyle swimming, backstroke or butterfly swimming techniques the better.  They could then become part of a swimming team, helping others to learn to swim also.




The benefit of a swimming exercise program with a swim kids club is that it a great way for children to have lots of fun, meet new friends while swimming and at the same time strengthening their muscles.

Developing and building friendships at a local aquatic centre keeps children socially engaged and strengthens their health and wellbeing. Being socially engaged increases their self esteem as well helping them feel important.

When children join a swimming team at a swim club they can participate in a competitive swimming program or develop more skilled swimming techniques at different swimming levels to improve their swimming techniques.



Swimming is one of the best ways to keep fit, not only for toddlers and children but for adults as well. Those who participate in swimming exercise gain so many health benefits as it helps keep their muscles strong and flexible, increases lung capacity and keeps the heart strong and healthy.

When wearing the correct swimwear, swim workouts while swimming in the ocean, doing open water swimming sports at your local aquatic centre, using the lap pool, applying different swimming techniques are all excellent ways to keep the body fit and healthy.

Some public swimming pools offer different lap pool lanes for varying swimming proficiency levels to practise and improve freestyle swimming skills.

Swimming classes are an excellent way for kids to keep fit and healthy as it improves the heart and develops lung capacity. Many kids who are overweight try swimming for weight loss, as it helps stabilize their weight while improving their health. The more kids are involved in a swim school program, the fitter they will be.

Older people often engage in low impact swim workouts, exercising the joints while keeping them moving freely.  Many doctors recommend low impact swimming classes for a quicker recovery to many sport injuries, especially knee joints.


Beaches are always great places to visit or camp nearby when on holidays and swimming is such a fun thing to do while at the beach. When children participate in a swimming program, swimming lessons or just swimming in the ocean, children will always enjoy themselves more with their friends and family.

Kids building sandcastles on the beach, jumping waves, practising their surfing and swimming skills, become fitter, happier and healthier children. They will be exercising, making new friends, while having lots of fun… and creating memories.


Swimming is a wonderful sport that can fit into most lifestyles and can be used to keep fit and active at any age. Swimming can also be included in many other sports such as water polo, surfing, lifesaving, scuba-diving and triathlon.

In Australia, swimming is not only a sport, it’s a way of life… it’s in our DNA.

Australians spend a great deal of time around water. Learning to swim is a life skill, and children who can swim are 70 to 80% less likely to drown. The Australian Water Safety Council’s aim is for 100% of children to be able to achieve a base level of swimming and survival skills before leaving primary school.

So, enrol your child in a swim school program!

Read more about Child Health and Nutrition

Boosting Child Self Esteem

self respect

While some children, by nature, have a greater sense of self confidence and a high self esteem, many others do not. Those children are often lacking confidence in many areas of their lives and often need a confidence boost.

Self esteem is built in incremental stages throughout a child’s developing years and on into adulthood.

Parents and teachers play a particularly important role in helping these children boost their self esteem. This can be done by encouraging them to participate, giving them lots of positive praise and an enthusiastic response when they do make an effort.

How to build confidence in small stages by encouraging children.

Children who lack self confidence often refrain from participating in activities if they may have been made fun of in the past or feel overwhelmed or self conscious when others are intently watching them.



When children are presented with a new activity, some children jump at the chance, but others hold back because they’re lacking confidence in their ability and may express that it’s too difficult.

Parents and teachers need to seize every opportunity to encourage children to confront their lack of self esteem, by using encouraging words, eye contact and enthusiastic expression.

Encourage children to try new things and have a go. A child with a low self esteem may be very timid when trying new activities for the first time, but with positive words of encouragement they can overcome their fears and increase their self confidence.

Encouragement strengthens self confidence

It may be the first time a child attempts to ride a bike or try to cut paper using scissors. It doesn’t matter if they make mistakes, what’s important is that you encourage them to have a go. Children develop and learn by overcoming their mistakes. This is what builds a child’s self confidence and self esteem.

Encourage children to try new things


Positive affirmations of encouragement build a child’s self esteem.

As a parent or teacher, model positive phrases to children. Children learn by watching others’ behaviours. Negative or damaging banter or behaviour can be confusing and have a detrimental effect on those watching. Therefore…

Demonstrating you’re pleased, using both happy facial expression and positive words of affirmation, demonstrates you acknowledge their efforts…

Using words of encouragement every day gradually builds a child’s self confidence. Their self esteem levels grow, and they develop into more confident kids…

Give a child tasks to do around the house that they may be responsible for… 

Embracing new challenges develops a child’s self esteem and develops their self worth. Children look for approval from others all the time, checking on their reaction and when it’s expressed, they gain a boost to their self confidence.

Encouragement is always a great way to give a child a confidence boost.  Here are some…


  • “Have a go, you may surprise yourself!”
  • “I will be here to help you”
  • “Well done, what a great effort!”
  • “You must be pleased with yourself!”

2          PRAISE

Praise builds a positive image of self .

Praise your child for effort as this shows they are willing to have a go and participate even if they are lacking confidence in themselves. Children need to be encouraged to have a go and be willing to do something that may seem to be challenging at first but may become easier with repeated effort. Praise your child for participation as it builds boosts their self confidence while increasing their self esteem levels.

Parental guidance

Praise builds happy children.

Praise needs to be given freely and often as it demonstrates that you appreciate their efforts and acknowledge their achievements. Praise from others strengthens their feeling of self worth and develops their ability to self-praise, as well as enhancing their image of self.

Overcoming challenges builds self esteem

Self esteem comes from children recognising that real effort is required before they can achieve their goals. When a parent, teacher or coach praises them, they realize their efforts are appreciated and acknowledged.

Positive reinforcement with positive affirmative statements gives a child a confidence boost.

A child’s self worth is greatly enhanced when children learn new skills and overcome challenges. Their self esteem is given a huge boost and their self confidence takes a giant leap. Supportive parents and teachers enthusiastically praise children for their achievements using affirmative phrases similar to those below…

Praise children enthusiastically using affirmations phrases such as:

  • “well done, what an achievement you’ve made!”
  • “you must be very pleased with yourself because I certainly am!”
  • “that was a great effort you put in there, well done!”

3          RESILIENCE

Resilience is the key strengthening tool a child needs when they take a blow to their own self confidence or self worth.

Teach Resilience

All children are capable of amazing things; however, many children face different challenges that weaken their self confidence and from time to time they need a confidence boost.

When children are faced with adversity, difficult decisions or dilemmas in their lives, it places a huge stress on their self esteem and can create a perception of low self self worth.

Children have different levels of resilience. They may be more emotional, angry, have feelings of defeat or perhaps behave in an introspective and quiet manner. Difficult emotional situations and challenges will always present themselves and may affect their self esteem. All children need to learn the skill of negotiating them.

Resilience reinforces self worth

Resilience is the key to gaining strength to confront inner conflicts and troublesome situations. Resilience gives children coping skills for bouncing back and getting on top of concerns that are likely to affect their self esteem, self respect or self worth.

Resilience is a major coping skill that not only improves self esteem but allows children to develop a stronger image of self confidence.

Resilience builds a stronger capacity to cope when faced with bewildering situations where their self esteem is greatly affected. It helps them bounce back more quickly after a blow to their self confidence.


Children need supportive positive relationships with caring parents or other support groups that can guide and help them navigate stressful and challenging situations. Positive relationships that are trusting, honest and have the child’s best interest at heart are paramount in building strong foundations and resilience.

Building strong relationships develops self respect.

Good strong social connections with friends, family, friends, teachers, and trusted people builds good strong reliable relationships with others. Positive relationships build a stronger, more caring spirit of cooperation… looking out for others and being aware of opportunities where they can build each other up, if self esteem levels are waning.

Positive relationships often last a lifetime.

Children’s self esteem increases when they recognize the importance of participation and putting effort into trying a new skill. But they need to put in the effort. Low self esteem is strengthened when children recognise that effort is required to achieve goals.


Problem solving develops self confidence

Teach Problem Solving Skills

If a child is not given the encouragement, praise, resilience and support and left totally to their own devices, low self esteem may continue long into the future.

A low self esteem can lead to many future difficulties and if left unchecked could lead to declining self respect.

Build a positive mindset

Build their problem solving skills. Teaching problem solving skills builds self esteem.

Children need to be equipped with the ability to look at a problem, and using their thought processes, try different scenarios to ultimately solve the problem. Concentrating on problem solving skills develops a child’s cognitive ability to work out different ways of overcoming difficult situations creatively.

Problem solving activities to improve self esteem and self confidence…

Strengthening a child’s self confidence can be achieved by actively being involved with many normal activities around the home. Being involved and responsible for different chores and general activities without a monetary reward builds more responsible kids. Encouragement, praise, and lots of thanks for accomplishments builds strong character, self esteem and confident, happy kids.

When children overcome new circumstances, their self worth gets a huge boost and they often beam with pride. Children also need to learn that overcoming difficulties builds knowledge and the ability to grow and strengthen their self confidence. When others praise them for achievements, they quickly take pride in themselves for efforts well done. Self praise is also a very important component in a child’s development.

Teach children to challenge themselves

Besides problem solving, children need to develop the skill of challenging themselves to finding solutions. Parents need to encourage children to try new things. This strengthens their self esteem while it builds self confidence.

In learning the skill of challenging themselves, it helps them overcome the more difficult situations. When they learn the art of challenging themselves, they can go on to influence and praise others for their efforts, again building up their own self esteem.

When children overcome dilemmas on their own, it boosts self esteem and helps them see that obstacles can be overcome. This creates confident kids as they learn new problem solving skills.

Confidence building activities for kids and teens…

When you spend time with your children, they are more likely to seek out your advice… when they know their opinion is valued and respected.

These can be situations where you spend quality time with your children, whatever their age. It may be time where the TV is off, laptop is shut, and the phone is off. Quality time is spent building up your child’s self esteem by listening to them, asking questions on how they feel or for their point of view on a topic. When their opinion is sought, children feel valued, and their self worth gets a boost.


  • Teaching your children to cook
  • Setting up a vegetable garden and being responsible for attending to it
  • Feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs
  • Washing the car… every week
  • Playing with jigsaws, puzzles, building things and creative play
  • Regular fun activity nights playing memory games, cards (eg crazy whist)
  • Puzzles, memory games, jigsaw puzzles, building things, creative play,
  • Asking questions… lots of visual games…
    • “How do you think we can glue the aeroplane together?”
    • “We don’t have any green color so what 2 colours could we mix together to make green?”
  • Creative Play
    • Creative play is very important for developing a child’s self esteem, while building their self confidence.  Confident kids are more willing to express themselves by experimenting with modelling clay, creative painting, planting their own vegetable garden and attempting more difficult projects.


Doing what they are good at not only develops a child’s self esteem but builds greater self confidence. Often children are quite talented at a particular sport or activity and, when given the opportunity to participate, their self esteem level soars.

Children need to be given various opportunities to find out what exactly their particular interests are. If they are not given the opportunities to try different creative activities, they may never discover a hidden talent that they may excel in.

Participation in the arts and sport programs opens up the door to many self esteem building activities, giving them a great deal of self worth and self respect. Meeting other children with similar interests not only builds strong friendships but greatly boosts self esteem for everyone.

Open up their creative interests, allow new possibilities for them to try different activities to further develop their self confidence. Team activities allow children to work out strategies and working cooperatively with others is a good self esteem building exercise… congratulating other players for their effort. This can develop close friendships along with their own self image.


Self confidence building activities

  • They may enjoy playing cricket… join the local cricket club
  • Swimming, horse riding, football… there are so many more.
  • If children love dancing, enrol them in dancing classes
  • It might be playing the piano… give them piano lessons.
  • Chess competitions, theatre clubs, creative cooking classes

Children just need opportunities to build their self worth and self confidence


Model and teach your children positive affirmations.

Your words and actions should always be demonstrated and reflect your own values, using positive self-esteem-building conversations. They should be praising and encouraging, never damaging in anyway, as children are always watching and listening.

When children see their parents or teachers modelling affirmative statements e.g., “I will always have a go”… “If I don’t succeed, I will try again”, these statements reflect a positive image of self worth.

By demonstrating positive modelling (behaviours and statements) you are inadvertently using self esteem building tools.


  • “I can do difficult things”
  • “I will always try and have a go”
  • “Mistakes help me learn”
  • “I can do this”
  • “I will learn to ask for help”
  • “I will do things that are hard”
  • “I am a problem solver”
  • “I will learn from my mistakes”
  • “I will help others”
  • “I will learn from my mistakes”
  • “I will always try to do my best”

These simple phrases help children or teens with feelings of anxiety when faced with anxious moments that affect their self esteem.

In Summary…

Self confidence is a vital tool for building a child’s self esteem. It plays an important role in their future happiness, health and wellbeing.

When a child develops self esteem and self confidence, it equips them with the skills they need to deal with their own behaviour, how they conduct themselves when they are confronted with life’s many negative challenges or frustrations.

Self esteem gives them the self confidence to pursue their own dreams and aspirations as they continue to believe more in themselves and develop into happier children.

Read more about Raising Happy Children