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5 Steps To Getting Your Child Into Watersports

As much as kids enjoy the great outdoors and look for fun wherever they go, they can be somewhat reticent when it comes to trying out something new, particularly when it could be considered a little bit “scary” for them. As much as we try and tell them to give it a chance with the “I promise you will love it” line, they may still be a bit reluctant! So how do you give them that confidence boost they need to get into the water? Here are a couple of tips to get you started, and ultimately, into the water together!
1. Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Show your kids how much fun it is, by doing it yourself! Let them see you rolling in the waves, being dunked and having the odd sinus wash while still laughing all the way. If they can see that even when their perceived “worst” happens it’s still all good, they may be more open to the experience. You may have to take them out a few times to see how much fun you are having before they decide to give it a go. My kids for example always come on the boat with us when we go kneeboarding or waterskiing and my 10 year old is now in the water too, having a blast on the tube. Her naturally more reserved younger sister however still needs to have a few more goes watching, although throw in a couple of fishing rods and she’s there like a bear!

2. Speak their language – use technology

It’s scary how much kids know about technology these days. My 8 year old can spend ages on the iPad watching funny cat videos on YouTube – and guess what – I never once showed her how. Kids love anything to do with technology, so start showing them videos of the watersports you want them to engage in. Let them be inspired by watching kneeboarding, waterskiing, or even young kids tubing. Don’t push them, but let them get used to the idea while they see how much fun the people in the videos are having. Let them see a couple of (not too intense) wipe-outs so that they can see that even when you fall, you are still okay and ready to go again. (Click here to see some of our own videos of training in action)

3. Play it down

Yes, your weekly surf is everything to you. You spend thousands on your wetsuits and boards, and think it is the most gnarly thing in the universe. But play it down when encouraging your kids. Don’t push them too fast if they are not ready, or they will simply push back and keep refusing. Keep a positive attitude while still keeping your cool. It’s no big deal really (yes we know to you it is, but if you overplay it to your kids they will think you are just trying to make it a bigger deal that it is and they will lose interest before they’ve even started).

4. Ask the big question… again if necessary!

If you feel the time is right, by all means, ask them the big question: are they keen. If the answer is “yes” – brilliant. If not, back off, and try again another time. I know from my own kids that as soon as I push I get a “you can’t force me” and then they want to try even less! Let them feel comfortable with the idea first and let them splash around and play in the water and watch you first until they feel ready to give it a go themselves.

5. Think about their age, their ability and their personality

Kids develop at different rates, and some are fearless from birth (my older daughter), while others like to watch from the beach until they feel ready (my younger daughter). Some kids are also naturally more adept at certain things than others so they may not take to watersports as quickly or naturally as you expected. If your child is younger and shows signs of being keen, however, consider organising a couple of lessons to get them started. As they get older you can take over the reins, however that grounding that a trained instructor will give them will go miles to making them confident and secure in the water.

We at Sail & Power SA teach kids, families and individuals dinghy sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and standup paddle boarding, as well as running a series of multi-activity courses over long weekends and during school holidays where kids can try out a range of watersports in a fun, relaxed environment. It’s a great and fun way to build water confidence while interacting with other kids. See our website for more details.

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Guest Wednesday, 26 July 2017