PADI AmbassaDiver Zac Araneta shares ways to get your kids involved with the underwater world while proving you don’t have to give up your sport to play the part of a parent.
PADI Master Instructor Zac Araneta didn’t let the fact that he has three kids, Zachary, 20, Shadrach, 17, and Scout 11 months, deter him from his passion for diving. Especially when he learned that once they saw how much he loved the water, it didn’t take long for them to follow in his footsteps.
“My kids love the water,” Araneta says. “I have to literally drag them out. At 11 months, my little Scout started in the pool as soon as we got the doctor’s permission.”
Want to share your love for the ocean with your kids? Here are Araneta’s tips for turning your little ones into future divers.
Start them when they’re young.
Araneta recommends getting babies in and under the water right away.
“I held Scout in my arms and just let her feel secure for about 5 to 15 minutes and then we would get out. Our next session was the same but with more movement, splashes and playing. Introducing her to go underwater was the fun part. I preconditioned her mind by counting ‘1, 2, 3’ and then dunking her quickly. There was no element of surprise for her and I would praise her for every effort that she made.”
Take them to the ocean.
When it comes to the ocean, Arenata says it’s best to move gradually. Start by letting the kids walk on the sand, then move to ankle-deep water and then eventually carry the child in waist-deep water for a few minutes.
“In my experience, it’s good to let the child feel secure in the environment before moving to the next step,” he says.
Allow them more opportunities to be in the water.
Dive travel is one of the best ways to introduce little ones to the ocean.
“Most dive shops and resorts have access to babysitters or nannies during the time when you’re diving,” Arenata says. “But other activities like swim team, beach cleanups and a yearly tradition of a vacation that involves diving and being in the ocean allows them to enjoy the water, too.”
When it comes to kids that don’t as easily take to the water, Araneta again emphasizes the power of patience.
“Patience and fun will allow them to slowly progress to love the water,” he says. “I think of it as a bonding moment and trust between parent and child.”