Sorry for the hiatus; we have been sick with colds and resting up as much as possible to be in good health to go camping again as soon as possible!
1. Familiarize your kiddo with water as much as possible (weeks in advance of paddling)!
We put H in swimming lessons as of her 2nd birthday, and I think it was one of the best uses of money for our daughter thus far! She learned so much and had the confidence of trying new things as she saw her peers in the class also jumping, floating, etc. In addition to this just being an important thing to do for your kids, this will help you as a parent also have more confidence around the water with the family.
2. Let them play with their PFD/life vest (days/weeks in advance of paddling).
Some kids hate the bulkiness of PFDs. A great way to get them excited for water time is to teach them to feel comfortable in their vests. We took H’s out at playtime or around the yard and let her try to put it on herself. This gave her great confidence in wearing it!
3. Give them a task to help with while getting ready to paddle (on the day of).
I know; it is easier for you to do everything, but they need to feel engaged! We’ve let H carry the paddle or sit in the boat while still ashore while we vested up ourselves. She loves this!
4. Give them landmarks/goals to reach while staying sitting still (while paddling).
Squirming is the biggest challenge in my opinion. I do not want a wrong squirm to flip the canoe! What we do is preoccupy her with seeing the scenery, and when the wiggles begin, we talk her through it by saying things such as “See that buoy ahead; do you want to go see it? Okay well let’s sit still so we can go see it!”
5. Have fun (while paddling)!
Seriously, if parents are not calm, babies will not be calm. Take a deep breath, be excited, and model the safe and fun behaviour that you want to see in your child.
Please share in the comments if you have any great tips for paddling with your kiddos!