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Why we let our kids fall into the pool
16th June 2016

We have three children under five and run holiday houses in Cyprus with pools. They have toddler fencing but we know that we all underestimate the risks of pools to young children.

We also know that our two and four year olds madly love water having done Waterbabies swimming classes from a few months old. They were even born in pools. They can’t resist water.

We see that the riskiest time is aged about two/two and a half when their need for the pool rages crazy. Their confidence far exceeds their swimming skills. They know they shouldn’t go in… but they just want to swim soooo much. When out from behind the toddler fence, they teeter around the edge, walk close to the side, throw in balls, sit on the side and kick. They look over their shoulders to see if we are watching. We are.

You can berate them, shut them behind the fencing, avoid sitting by the pool yourselves. But the temptation breeds alongside our fear that if we turned our heads for one second they’d be in.

So instead, we let them wander and explore. We stand back (a little) and watch like hawks. We mentally rehearse what we’ll do if they splash. And we wait.

Both have tumbled in, in precisely the same scenario – they are throwing in a ball and standing waiting for it to be washed back by the filter when the urge for the ball is too great and they topple.

Falling into a cold pool fully clothed and out of control is a far less appealing experience than leaping into the arms of your waiting parents. Both were very surprised. We fished them out fast and said, eye-to-eye, uncompromisingly ‘Never do that again’. Nothing more.

In both cases their behaviour transformed immediately. From risky corners and teetering to keeping nervously away from the edge. Neither has ever done it again. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

PS… To be very clear, this is clearly a crap approach and in no way advice.