Diving with a junior diver

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Reaction score
SoCal Beach Cities
# of dives
50 - 99
I also have a child who started diving relatively young, although was a little older at 13 when she first certified. Long story short she did a discover scuba with her best friend while on vacation. Her best friend's mother is also a certified diver. Since the other mother and I were both certified at the time we were allowed to tag along at a distance for their dive. I got a very good sense that my daughter understood the physical risks of diving when as she and her friend where making their way slowly up the anchor line my daughter starts to make these sweeping motions in front of her regulator. She was reminding her friend to "breath" and not to hold her breath as they ascended. Both girls after the dive begged to complete their training while on vacation and left with PADI OW Jr. certification.

Our first dive a few weeks after certification was at Casino Point in Avalon, Catalina Island. I had called the dive shop multiple times to confirm they had gear for a smaller diver and that they had full exposure gear. I was reassured that they had gear and a certified DM. When we arrived they did have a wetsuit small enough for her but had full foot fins and no booties, no hood, and no gloves. Meanwhile the DM was in a dry suit and I had hood, gloves, and booties. Poor girl's lips were almost blue she was so cold after the first dive. An hour later surface interval did not get her sufficiently warm. I could see the apprehension in her eye's about having to get back in the cold water so I thumbed the second dive. To me there was not much to be gained diving was from another dive except reinforce her dislike of cold water diving.

After that dive I told my wife she needed her own gear. She got her own wetsuit, hood, gloves, and booties. Later I found a blow out special online and bought her own BC. The only piece of equipment she doesn't have right now is a regulator.

Since she does not like shore dives I tried taking her on a local dive boat out of Dana Point. Conditions that day weren't great and by the time we got to the dive site we were both queasy. By the time we got in the water I had lost my lunch and she was close. She didn't want to do the second dive so I let her thumb that one. On the drive home after nearby lunch I thought the whole day was a bust. But she surprised me by saying, "thank you Daddy for taking me diving." Wow, the kid actually had a good time and enjoyed her time with Dad. That is special.

These days the requirement for warm water and warm weather diving on the family summer vacation is hers, not mine. She tells my wife when planning summer vacations she is happy to go anywhere warm where she can dive. I of course have to pack all the dive gear to take along with us since after all, someone has to look after her in the water.

So 1+ on DarinJ's points on diving with kids.

1. Each kid is unique. There is no age limit and the parent needs to decide if the kid is old enough and mature enough to dive. Talk to the dive instructor as well and interview as many instructors as it takes to find one with both the patience/temperament to train kids but has experience training kids.

2. Kids need their own gear. Yes, they will grow out of it and you will have to replace it but they need their own gear. That is especially true of smaller kids who may have trouble fitting rental wetsuits and BC's.

3. You have to be patient. The thumb a dive rule in particular needs to be reinforced. Your child has to feel comfortable with you as a buddy to say, "I'm sorry, I don't think diving today is a good idea." It's hard for adults to say that to their friends, so imagine how hard that is for a child to say to a parent. But, if you are diving with kids they have to have that comfort with you.

4. They see the world differently. That is part of the charm. As my later story indicates I thought the day was a bust but she had a memorable day. It doesn't always have to be the greatest dive you ever had to be memorable. Sometimes just spending time with them is enough. I've heard that you show your love by the time you give them. She got a whole morning of Dad without any having to share with her brother or sister. Spend time with your kids, it's how they know you love them.

5. HAVE FUN !!!! That is, after all, why we all dive.


Reaction score
# of dives
2500 - 4999
Good article! I've been diving steadily with my one son since about 8 yrs old. Wish I had a better camera 8 years ago.

It's taken a lot of time and talks and errors noted in the log book, but he is now a pretty darn good buddy. He does what I expect (generally) and helps out how and when I need it. At 16, I allow him to dive with me to about 130 ft, but I still see some evidence of narcosis on the deeper dives, so I try to watch him extra carefully on those rare deeper dives.

He snorkels better than me for a while now and lately he seems to shoot better too. :( We're definitely still having fun..

A progression of videos from 10 yrs old until now.....

Snorkeling at 10 yrs

Scuba at 10 yrs old - 80 ft wreck Dive

Spearfishing at 12 yrs old

Scuba Spearing with Sharks in 85 ft at 14 yrs old

Freediving at 15 yrs old
15 yr old Freediver; John's Dive - YouTube

Scuba in 85 ft at 16 yrs old

Freedving in 90 ft at 16 yrs old


Reaction score
New Jersey
# of dives
500 - 999
One great thing about getting certified and doing 50 dives by the age of 13 - I bet Dad's paying for it! :D


Reaction score
Tucson, AZ
# of dives
100 - 199
I love diving with my son. Each child is absolutely unique, while my oldest was without a doubt ready at 10, his younger brother, if/when decides he wants to get certified will probably take a few more years.

things I've learned:

1. Having properly fitting gear is important. Exposure protection, smaller mouth pieces on regulators, and bcds. We're lucky to use a local shop that has a wide range of BCD sizes so I've held off on that purchase but make sure to keep him in the same or similar BCD that he's used in the past. He's tried different makes and styles in the pool, but For dives I make sure to stick to what he's familiar and comfortable with.

Kids grow to damn fast. Don't assume what fit him last trip will fit him next trip. I've had a few last minute trips to my Lds to get last minute items that he's outgrown.

2. What i think is cool is not universal. Octopus...meh. Seahorse...meh. Eels...meh. But point out a nudi or flat worm and he doesn't want to leave. Ask him what he would be excited to see.

3. Put the camera away and focus on being a good buddy. I'm not saying I leave it on the boat, but I limit my pics to either things that he points out or pics of him.

4. Engrain good habits, don't let him rely solely on me to keep track or depth, time and air. Granted I'm going to do it anyway, but make sure he's aware of his own readings.

5. Listen to him and read his body language. I've thumbed dives based on what he didn't say. Make sure he understands that anyone can thumb a dive for any reason at any time.

6. Have fun
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Reaction score
# of dives
500 - 999
My kid is a young adult. She went through dive training with other divers as her buddy and although we naturally dive together a lot, I've always made a point of having her buddy up with other divers on a regular basis (club divers so we know these people & their diving). I assume I don't know what-all habits are only mine and what extra aid I might unconciously be providing, so I want her out on her own at regular intervals to grow & gain experience for herself. I also like the fact that if something unexpectedly leaves me out of a dive she can buddy up with someone else and it's no big deal.


Reaction score
Vernon, BC Canada
# of dives
100 - 199
My kid is a young adult. She went through dive training with other divers as her buddy and although we naturally dive together a lot, I've always made a point of having her buddy up with other divers on a regular basis (club divers so we know these people & their diving).

That is something my son and I have not done--yet. Even in training, Evan dove with me. He's never been in the water without me as his buddy. You've got me thinking of who in our area would be a good buddy for him. Great idea, thanks!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Jim Lapenta

Reaction score
Canonsburg, Pa
# of dives
500 - 999
I have one idea of who he could buddy up with and I would not hesitate to let my son dive with him as well :wink:. Even though I was only in the water with him once, Dwayne is the kind of diver I'd want as a buddy for myself and my loved ones.

---------- Post added December 21st, 2014 at 11:36 AM ----------

Plus they know each other.

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