Chil­dren and scuba div­ing

De­cid­ing when your child is ready to learn to scuba dive is a de­ci­sion you shouldn’t just leave to one of the dive train­ing bod­ies.

Action Asia - - SCUBA BASICS - Text by Si­mon Prid­more

THE IS­SUE OF WHAT AGE CHIL­DREN ARE able to learn to scuba dive is a com­plex one. Train­ing agen­cies tend to adopt a one-size-fits-all pol­icy, fix­ing a spe­cific age at which they can be cer­ti­fied. This sort of ap­proach is in­ap­pro­pri­ate where chil­dren are con­cerned though as they de­velop phys­i­cally, psy­cho­log­i­cally and so­cially at very dif­fer­ent speeds. A train­ing agency may tell you that a child of 12 can learn to scuba dive, with parental con­sent, but this does not mean that YOUR 12-year-old should learn. In fact, dive pro­fes­sion­als have lit­tle rel­e­vant ex­per­tise at all in as­sess­ing whether your child is ready to scuba dive, save what they might have learned if they have taught their own kids. In other words, it is ex­pe­ri­ence as a par­ent that is most rel­e­vant and there is no one bet­ter qual­i­fied that than you. The de­ci­sion re­gard­ing when a child can learn to scuba dive must take into ac­count in­di­vid­ual ed­u­ca­tional, phys­i­cal, phys­i­o­log­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and sit­u­a­tional fac­tors. Can they swim well? Are they com­fort­able in wa­ter? Do they have good read­ing, com­pre­hen­sion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills? Are they med­i­cally fit to dive, as as­sessed by a div­ing doc­tor. Is child-sized equip­ment avail­able? Have you found an in­struc­tor you trust? I have three daugh­ters, all very dif­fer­ent. From an early age, they were on the wa­ter, in the wa­ter and hang­ing around with divers. The sit­u­a­tional cir­cum­stances were ideal. I was an ex­pe­ri­enced in­struc­tor and I owned a dive cen­tre that stocked equip­ment sized for small chil­dren, such as tiny cylin­ders and BCDS. We even had child-sized snorkel and reg­u­la­tor mouth­pieces. I taught my el­dest daugh­ter when she was 12. She was tall, strong, sen­si­ble, lis­tened well, pro­cessed in­for­ma­tion in­tel­li­gently and was a pre­co­cious reader. She had a close friend who wanted to learn to dive too and they made a good team. It is very im­por­tant that chil­dren are taught to dive separately from adults and in very small groups, so they are not over­looked. At 12, my sec­ond daugh­ter was smaller than her sis­ter. She also had a vivid imag­i­na­tion, tended to day­dream and could be im­pul­sive. I de­cided to wait a cou­ple of years un­til she was stronger and more emo­tion­ally ma­ture and she even­tu­ally learned to dive at 15. When my third daugh­ter was 12, I took her for her pre-dive med­i­cal check-up and she was di­ag­nosed with a mi­nor health is­sue that meant that scuba div­ing might carry a risk for her. She was dis­ap­pointed at first but even­tu­ally ac­cepted that it made sense and is a very happy and ful­filled snorkeller. Now an adult, she has never learned to dive and is ab­so­lutely fine with that. Which brings me to a fi­nal caveat: just be­cause you, as par­ents, may be divers, this does not mean that your chil­dren will au­to­mat­i­cally want to learn to dive. Fight the urge to push them. If they want to dive, they’ll let you know.

This is the fourth and fi­nal ar­ti­cle in our se­ries based on ma­teri a l f rom the au­thor’s book en­ti­tled ‘Scuba Fun­da­men­tal – Start Div­ing the Right Way’. See pre v i ous 2 0 1 7 is­sues for the rest of the se­ries.

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