If you, like me, are both a scuba diver and a parent, you most likely want to share your passion for the ocean with your children. You’ll not only help them discover the world of wonder beneath the waves, but also make at least part of your family vacations all about diving.
There’s a story that Jacques-Yves Cousteau simply strapped scuba gear on his children — and then his grandchildren — at a very young age, and tossed them into the family swimming pool. Although probably more entertaining than true, this is obviously not the best way to introduce diving to your kids. Instead, try the following tips.
Show your passion
Most organizations have an age requirement of 10 or older before they’ll train children to dive, although PADI does offer the Bubblemaker program to kids 8 and up. Before your kids can join you on a regular dive, get them excited by showing them what’s to love about diving. If one or both parents routinely go diving, kids are likely to be naturally curious about the sport. So tell your stories and show your photos or videos, if you have them. Taking them to the local aquarium, as long as it’s reputable, can also spark interest in the underwater world.
Make them comfortable in the water
This isn’t just a good idea for scuba diving, but generally. Making sure your children know how to swim and are comfortable in water is hugely important for both their pleasure and safety. So take a baby swimming class with them, and take them to the local pool, beach, or lake as often as possible. A love of the water is a great thing to have, scuba diver or not.
Start off easy
You may be comfortable diving in local waters, but if they’re temperate and maybe even a bit murky, a dive here probably won’t be a very enticing first experience for your kids. Plan a family vacation somewhere with warm, clear water and some interesting aquatic life, and then take them out for an easy snorkel. A mask, a snorkel, and even just a few feet of water can be an adventure for a young child. As they mature, head for deeper water, but stick to snorkeling for a while.
Let them go (or not) at their own pace
Even when your kids reach an age where they can start doing try dives or take a certificate, don’t force them. Let them discover it at their own pace. Ask them if they want to try diving, but if they’re reluctant, that’s fine. Let them discover scuba diving when they’re ready, and accept that they may never be interested. Scuba’s not for everyone, but if you’re relaxed and accepting of your child’s timeline and interest, there’s a far greater chance that diving will become a passion you can share.