Why Treading Water can be a Dangerous Skill to Teach a Young Child

Why Treading Water can be a Dangerous Skill to Teach a Young Child


Always teach your child to tread water if they get tired while swimming.


Treading water can be dangerous for young children, especially new swimmers.

treading water

One of the most common misconceptions about swimming is that, it is always best practice to tread water when you might need a break from swimming. While this may be true for adults and older children, it can be extremely dangerous for young children, especially those who are not confident swimmers.

At some swim schools, treading water is often listed as one of the core safety skills listed that your child will learn within the first couple of lessons.

If you look at an adult treading water, they seem to not be working too hard, their entire head is above the water, and they are able to breathe easily. However, this will not be the case for a child. Often, a child is just barely above the water, with their head tilted back, mouth open and barely above the surface. This position can be particularly dangerous. The child who is in danger is too focused on keeping themselves afloat that they cannot raise their hand to wave for help, or use their voice to yell for assistance.


Young children’s bodies are not suited for treading water. A child’s head is almost twice the size of an adult’s head in proportion to the rest of the body. Additionally, a children’s hands, feet, and muscles are much smaller and much less powerful. If a child were to find themselves in deep water, they would find that they are not as buoyant as they need to be due to their relatively heavy head and small lungs. Additionally, they lack the muscle strength to propel themselves upward, and their muscles will tire out much more quickly.

What is the best technique then to stay afloat?


Instead of teaching children to tread water when they need a break from swimming, we need to resort to another technique to keep them safe. The safest thing for them to do is to flip over onto their back so they can breathe, then flip over to their belly to swim in the direction of safety. Swimming on your belly in the water is the most natural position to swim, so this will be easiest and fastest to get the child to safety.

Additionally, if the child happens to be clothed when they find themselves in danger, the wet clothes can weigh them down considerably, so this method will prevent that extra weight dragging them down. Finally, floating on the back to breathe is a much less strenuous way of resting than treading water. Muscles are used much less, and it will be much safer for the child.

Other Important Rules to Follow at the Pool:

pool rules

Important Rules to Follow in Open Water:

Sunsational Swim School not only specializes in teaching children and adults how to swim, but we place great importance on water safety skills. It is highly important to teach people how to keep themselves and others safe while in the water. Our talented and experienced swim instructors are given resources and information to ensure that we are teaching the most up-to-date information to each of our clients. We develop individual plans for each of our clients, and we even will drive to a location that is most convenient for you and your family!

Book your Sunsational swimming lessons today! With our signature Learn to Swim Guarantee, we will ensure that you will see results during your lessons, or you will receive up to 4 additional lessons, completely free of charge. Book your lessons today to start learning these invaluable life saving skills!

Olivia Darr’s bio:

Swim Instructor in Columbia, SC

Hi! My name is Olivia and I've been teaching swimming lessons for over two years now. I've worked with children for a number of years. My experience includes: Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the swim team I coach for. I just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in August 2018 with a degree in communications and marketing. I love teaching swimming because I love helping kids become comfortable in the water and helping them become more confident!

Call Us at 1-888-788-2140 to book your Swimming Lessons Today


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