My 7-year-old-son is scared stiff of water. —How can I help him overcome his phobia?
Jacques Nicolas. Chairman of the Beauvais Baby Club who runs FAEL. What matters is to respect his phobia and to take things step by step in the form of a game. Choose a space where he can enter the water very gradually. Play with him at the edge of the water (with watering can, ball, plastic boat). Gently encourage him to walk into the water up to his knees, then up to his waist, but let him set the pace. This might require three half-hour sessions. Do not despair! Once he’s walked into the water up to his shoulders, take him somewhere he can play while still touching bottom. He needs to know he can put his feet down: he’s a landlubber. Then kit him out with goggles so he can see what happens underwater. Start with his chin, make noises with your mouth, say hello to him underwater… play until he is ready to put his head under the surface. Once he has enough confidence to do that, try and get him to stretch out on his stomach, supported by your hands or a board. When he realizes that he can float naturally, he’ll relax and be ready to learn how to swim.