I was certain my newborn daughter would love the water, by the very fact she was related to me! And so, the instant she tumbled into this world, I plunged full steam ahead introducing her to the world of boating. Oh dear reader, let me help you avoid the mistakes I made. Find below, the plan I followed…and do yourself a favor by avoiding any similar strategies as you introduce your little one to the magic all the ocean has to offer!
Age 1: Bareboat in the Bahamas – Subject your child to rolling waves, bucking surf, and a hot cramped berth. This first impression of boating will lay the groundwork for other “boat love” damage you will do.
Age 2: Fish All Day – Stick to your guns when you decide to stay out dawn to dusk. Fish can’t decipher the topside whine of a hungry 2 year-old. Your child’s small brain will begin to associate your boat with unpleasantness.
Age 3: Read the Entire Sunday Paper – Now what child wouldn’t be intrigued with this load of on board fun?!
Age 4: Mandate Snorkeling – When your sweet daughter mutinies and declares she will not go snorkeling, tell her you will not leave the reef until she gets in and tries it. This is almost guaranteed to get your child to resent every fish in the sea!
Age 5: Go Catch the Big One – Strike the fear of God into your child when you take her offshore to endure cresting and crashing waves. Tried and true! Your kid will never want to set foot on board again!
Age 6: Get a Clue! – Realize there is an easier, softer way to get your child to love boating. Change your tactics. Come to grips with the fact that your long term (happy) boating future will depend on your child’s happy boating outlook.
I admit to being a terribly slow learner, but when I realized I was on the track to creating a child who was not relating to my own favorite way to work and play (which would condemn the future of my favorite way to recreate), I had to change my tactics. Here are some tips to help encourage your little ones to love boats and reverse any previous “boat-loving damage” you may have already subjected them to.
6 Painless Ways to Get Your Child “On Board” with Boating
Short and Sweet: Not every child is going to love the all-day adventure. Short and successful excursions go a long way toward making happy future boaters.
No Nausea: The memory of seasickness is so hard to erase. Prepare with anti-seasickness medicine or wristbands for the smaller ones.
SHADE ZONE: Attitudes improve instantly when little tempers can hide from the sun. Biminis, “tents”, and cabins can save a trip!
PINK OR RED: Avoid the discomfort of a sunburn by insisting on hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
GAMES: Just take the games, books and markers and ignore the fact that you could all just as easily be playing UNO on land. While you are communing with the Sea Gods, your child will probably be happier “passing ‘Go’ ” on the Monopoly board.
SNACKS!: Everything tastes better on a boat, but SNACKS make the difference between a good trip and a great trip. A bag of potato chips and a bowl of pistachios go a long way toward one darn good time!
The result? My kid loves to boat!
What success have you had getting your child to love boating? Email me, Captain Elizabeth Jolin, at email@example.com to tell me your stories!
photo credits: Troy Wheatley/ Wheatley Photography