Infant Swimming Essay

1454 words - 6 pages

Drowning is the third most common death related accident among children younger than 4 in the United States and the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 in California, Arizona, and Florida. (Ellis & Trent, 1997) People have reacted to such statistics by coming up with programs to teach children to swim. The programs started with the pioneering work of Virginia Hunt Newman who brought the idea over to the United States from Australia. She was taught by an Australian by the name of Claire Zimmerman. (Johnson & Odent, 1995) Researchers have found that the best programs understand that knowledge of infant behavior and development would be the safest technique to prevent future drownings. Through years of research with constant colleague review behavioral psychologists have developed programs to reduce the chances of drowning and free the child from the effects of fear when they near the water. Operant conditioning along with psychological development are the technologies used in teaching infants. These programs use child development principles to develop the program goals. Tens of thousands of children have learned the skills to save themselves in a panic situation. The drownproofing programs in the United States have made safety their number one priority and can help a child not panic when they have an aquatic accident. For simplicity sake I will use the masculine pronoun "he" to refer to all infants and toddlers. I expect the reader to substitute the pronoun "she" mentally if necessary. Many parents are afraid to teach their infants to swim, but there are good reasons why both the parent and the child can benefit from swimming lessons. Your child will love the water. Being with your child in the pool can be an exciting time of bonding for the parent and child. Your child looks to you for encouragement in the new activities that he is trying to accomplish. Physical contact, hugging and touching, expresses love to your child. Being in the water with him gives you a chance to have lots of physical contact. Researchers say that physical contact especially skin to skin is very important to the bonding process. (Johnson & Odent, 1995) Giving this freedom to learn new experiences helps a child reconcile the first stage in Erik Erikson's child development theory, trust versus mistrust. Furthermore, praising your child for even attempting a task even though the task was not perfectly performed is a good way to build a child's self confidence. Children who receive praise only when they do something right conclude their parents love them for their accomplishments not just themselves. Remember genuine love is not contingent on success or failure. Pediatricians have claimed to see lower instances of a cold or flu in a child who takes water safety training. (Whitehead & Curtis, 1983) Furthermore, if you exercise your baby in the water he will get more exercise because of the decreased restriction that gravity has on...

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