Pool safety for kids: Getting them to listen

pool safetyAllowing the kids to enjoy the family pool, but teaching them to be safe, is just one more task of parenting. But with the inherent risks of water, it is very important to make safety issues important to the children. They just want to jump in the water and play.

How do you get them to listen when it comes to pool safety? Here are some ideas:

Start with the rules. Let the kids know that “no running at the pool” is one of the family rules, but take the time to explain to them why. It’s not just about having rules, but running when there is water splashing around is a good way to get injured, and you don’t want them to be injured. Clearly state the rules, so the children will know the boundaries. Let them know there will be consequences if they don’t adhere to those rules. To help with safety issues, these articles have some great information:

Have a family meeting. If you just mention the rules for the swimming pool as they are on their way out the back door, the kids might not hear much. Before heading outdoors, sit down in the living room, out of sight of the pool, and let the children know about the rules – and the importance of adhering to them. Look each child in the eye when doing this, so they’ll start to understand that this is a big deal. If you sense that they don’t understand – ask each child to repeat the rules back to you.

Make sure their friends know as well. If one of the children invites over friends, first make sure each child can swim. If they seem hesitant – ask them to show you. Then go over the rules, so that they know the boundaries that will apply when they are using your pool. There’s no need to have an out of control child running all around while your children are trying to adhere to the pool rules.

Repetition pays off. Kids don’t always get things the first time, so don’t just make the safety rules for the pool a one time thing. Repeat them several times, and if they seem to be forgetting in the middle of a pool session, ask them to please get out of the water, and go over safe behavior again.

Stop that! Use your “I’m not kidding” voice with a child if they start running down the side of the pool. It gives the child a warning that they are crossing the line, but allows them a grace period to correct the behavior. Of course, this is only effective if the child behaves, so if it doesn’t work, don’t keep doing it over and over – it only weakens the impact of what the parent is saying. It’s time for the next step.

Enforce consequences. The rules have clearly been stated and reinforced. But if one of the kids just won’t comply, put the consequences into effect. The first violation of the rules means the child has to get out of the pool for a few minutes. The next time, a longer timeout. When the parent says the child has to go inside, while their friends are outside having fun – that’s when the child will really get the lesson that this is serious.

It may take some repetition to get the message across, but with proper establishment of the rules, the kids start to believe Mom and Dad are serious about safety. When protecting the lives of your children, it’s worth the extra effort to get the kids to listen.

[About the author: Kaitlin Gardner writes for She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend.  In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature.  She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle. Image: M I T C H Ǝ L L]

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