I have always coached parents on patience when it comes to their kids’ comfort level in being upside down. That “comfort level” for many kids does not really happen until they reach 10-12 years old. Not making sense considering that they are super stars paddling down the river (like little corks)? Or considering they are total athletes and fearless on a bike/skateboard/skis… So think about this: from the first time a little guy tries to take a step and falls, falling is okay. And as a result there never seems to be a tough learning curve for kids in skiing for example…therefore soon they are skiing circles around adults. Or flying off jumps on their BMX. Or an absolute daredevil on a skateboard. So why the lag time in kids’ comfort with the whole upside down thing in a kayak? You have to remember that kids do not really spend all that much time under the water. So sticking them in a kayak and encouraging them to be “okay with” being upside down can take some time. Patience!
And I recently embraced a really good point. You go out to the pool/lake/river and encourage your child to do a wet exit. Or start walking them through rolling. And you encourage them “not be be afraid” under the water; “it is not a big deal.” So how many times do they ever see you doing wet exits? Even in a demonstation situation? And having fun with it? And on the river, how often are you upside down and having fun with it in front of them? If the answer to either is “limited number of times” or “none” it is time to be a real roll model. Go out and do wet exits and show them it is not a big deal. Do wet exits on the river if they are fearful as soon as they get on the river (okay, maybe do it in an eddy or pool so your gear does not go racing off on you).
You want your kids to have fun/be comfortable upside down? Prove it!