Getting your kids passionate about the underwater world is a great idea for so many reasons. Not only can it contribute to greater conservation efforts in the future, helping to preserve our magnificent underwater heritage, but sharing this exciting new world with your children can make for some wonderful and memorable experiences. Added to that, having kids who enjoy diving makes for a great reason to book even more diving vacations!
It has been said that Jacques Cousteau’s way of introducing his children and grandchildren to scuba diving was to simply strap some gear onto them and throw them into the closest swimming pool. A bit of a drastic move and perhaps too extreme for most parents, but it is important to share your passion with your children, and here are some sure-fire ways to make sure your efforts don’t go unnoticed:
Share Your Discoveries, Share Your Passion
Sometimes parents struggle with exactly how to share their passions with their kids. With scuba diving, this can be quite simple. If there’s a good aquarium in your local area, for example, this is the perfect way to showcase just how incredible the underwater world can be. Aquariums are generally targeted towards young children, and the good ones will present plenty of interesting facts in a way that is fun, interactive and easy-to-understand. If your children are too young to read, this is the perfect way to get involved by explaining the many interesting facts about each creature.
Closer to home, there are hundreds of interesting diving videos and documentaries online and on television, but remember that children are more likely to be interested in something if it has a personal touch. Showing them your own pictures or videos and recounting your marine encounters might have more of an impact than a regular National Geographic documentary, especially if your children are young.
In fact, one of the easiest ways to get your children interested in the sport is to tell them exciting stories of your experiences. Children love stories and would love to hear about the time you swam through a dark cave and came out on the other side only to discover you were surrounded by a group of huge sharks, magnificent manta rays or whatever unique stories you may have to tell.
If your child is interested in exploring the wonders of our underwater world through a formal scuba diving experience, there are some introductory courses available for children as young as 8 years old. PADI’s Bubblemaker program is one such introduction. Many of the dive organizations set the age limit at 10 or older for children to actually become qualified, but there is plenty of opportunity to get them excited in the years leading up to the legal age.
Get Them Comfortable in the Water
This goes for any parent, whether scuba diving is a big part of your life or not. Getting your children to be comfortable in the water will help them greatly in life and open so many opportunities for them to discover more about our fascinating world. Not only that, but making sure your children are able to swim and are comfortable in the water is an important way to keep them safe. Many parents take their infants to baby swimming classes which are a great idea, but it’s important to maintain or increase their exposure to water as they get older, either through swimming lessons or fun water-based activities such as water parks or a trip to the seaside.
Take It Easy to Begin With
Snorkelling is another perfect way to expose your children to the wonders beneath the waves. A good fitting mask, snorkel and fins is all they need to begin with, and starting off in clear, shallow waters is probably best. As they get more comfortable and adventurous you can take them to deeper waters, teach them how to free dive and give them tips on how to spot certain elusive creatures. If they take an interest in the sport and decide to take a scuba diving course, it’s best to take them somewhere with guaranteed easy diving conditions at first. Warm, shallow waters with excellent visibility will help to make them more comfortable while they are still learning.
Be Patient and Supportive
As every parent knows, forcing your children to do something they don’t want to do can be quite a difficult, tiresome and quite often a completely pointless exercise. Scuba diving is no different. So even once your children are at a suitable age to try scuba diving, let them discover the wonder of scuba at their own pace. By all means, present the opportunity for them to try it out, but if they don’t take to it right away, or ever, don’t force the issue. Understand that scuba diving is not always everyone’s cup of tea. If you can remain laidback, patient and informative if or when your child does express an interest in the sport, it’s more likely that scuba diving will become something you can share with them.