Swimming lessons won't prevent your kid from drowning

Just because you get your kid into water early in life, doesn't mean you're protecting them from drowning. Barbara Morrongiello, Canada Research Chair in Child & Youth Injury Prevention, explains how early swimming lessons can lead to a false - and dangerous - sense of security amongst children and their parents.

Summer weather often sees kids and their parents or caregivers flocking to water.

But Barbara Morrongiello, says just because your child has had swimming lessons, doesn't mean they will be able to avoid drowning.

"The problem is we call them 'swim classes' for the most part and I think that sometimes we think young children are actually learning to swim when they really aren't getting the skills they need to keep from drowning," she says.

Morrongiello, the Canada Research Chair in Child/Youth Injury Prevention at the University of Guelph, says swimming lessons can lead to a false - and dangerous - sense of security amongst children and their parents because comfort and confidence in the water often get mistaken for competency. 

If you compare what a child can do with what the parents think they can do and compare that to what the teacher actually knows they can do, parents generally overestimate the skillsets of the young children.- Barbara Morrongiello

Another big factor, Morrongiello says, is supervision or a lack of it.

"The other thing that shifts as children accumulate swim lessons is parents become more confident they can keep themselves from drowning and so their supervision actually tends to decline."

To Morrongiello, it's important to keep in mind that both the Canadian and American pediatric organizations don't recommend swim lessons for children until they are 4 or 5 years old. 


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