Advice For Paddleboarding With Kids

Here’s a few tips to make teaching your kids how to paddle board fun and easy for the whole family. Paddle boarding with kids can be a fun experience for every family member, and it can be a chance to create great memories your child will remember later in life.

As with anything in life though, it is important to stay realistic and ready for the unexpected in case the paddling experience starts to go south, since it can be hard to predict or control how children will do during the trip. You must bring patience and be accommodating to your kids in order to get them comfortable in the water, able to balance on the board and open to the outdoor activity.

Start them SUP’ing young

When she was three, I started my child Nora riding along on the nose of my stand up paddle board. At that age, she wasn’t strong enough, or really all that thinking about paddling it herself. All she understood was that riding on the nose of an SUP board was enjoyable, her parents existed to have a good time with her, and it was remarkable. Even now at age 9, she still likes to ride along sometimes despite the fact that she is a strong little paddle boarder. Let your child progress as they are comfortable – some kids may want to paddle on their own board when they are 5, others might not be able to until they are older. Allow your child to sit and feel safety as long as they need to as you paddle around the lake until they feel comfortable on your new board or kayak. There’s no rush to have your child able to stand up right away. They will have a chance to build up their balance and technical ability once they are used to the board and its movement.

Have a lot of patience while they get confident

It’s important to give your kids time to grow comfortable in the water. If you start young, this will give them plenty of time to build up their confidence about paddling. Make sure you take your kids out on calm waters for their first several trips, giving them a chance to get used to the SUP board. If your child doesn’t yet have enough confidence to start exploring deeper waters, stick with what they do have confidence for until it grows.

What confidence means for children

Your children are most likely adventurous like you, and with time, they will want to push their limits and go out further if they aren’t pushed too hard. Knowing that you are there to encourage them, show them the world from your board, and keep them safe or comfort them if they get scared or fall while paddling is a great way to give your children space to build up their confidence in paddleboarding and in life. They will see that you have their back, and that the activities you have to show them will be fun and exciting.

Have practical expectations for paddle boarding

Kids get tired, kids get cold, kids get bored, kids get hungry, kids get thirsty, kids get whiny, and to put it simply, kids are quite unpredictable. So be it if you only go 50ft on the SUP trip. You can take more trips to practice your paddling on your own if you need to. Not too many kids are interested in going out for super long or tough paddles – so make sure you change it up a bit. Paddle out to the middle of the lake for a swim, have a contest about who can do the very best jump off the SUP board, or just take a seat and hang out one-on-one.

Celebrate small paddleboarding successes

On our first trips out into the water, the stand up paddle board was simply there to get us to the middle of the lake, and I am 100% okay with that. If the paddle session only lasts 10 minutes, do not get frustrated with them for it being so short – rather, make sure to offer a little appreciation, a high five, and be happy your kid likes to SUP so far to make them feel comfortable and keep them calm. Adding a bunch of pressure is never a good idea. If they fall down, encourage them and help them to see that there’s no reason to fear the water.

Interest and endurance should grow over time

With time, your kid might want to spend more time on the paddleboard, go farther into the water, or take a faster trip. This may give you a chance to get more of a paddling session in like you had hoped. If your kids don’t seem to increase their endurance or interest in spending this time paddleboarding, it may be that they just need more time to practice, grow, and build up strength in this new activity.

If your kid doesn’t seem to like paddleboarding

It is possible your kids might also just not like to paddleboard. Don’t take it personally if your kid doesn’t take much interest in the sport, or seems to lose interest over time. If your paddleboarding trips don’t seem to catch your children’s attention no matter how much or how little paddling you do, be ready to be accepting that it isn’t their thing. There is a chance they will develop a greater appreciation for it later in life, but there is also the chance that won’t ever happen.

Finding a different sport

If your kid does not seem to enjoy paddleboarding, what then? Keep paddleboarding if you love to do it, it’s important to keep doing what you love and there is a chance your kid will gain more of an interest someday! But finding an outdoor activity your kid will enjoy is something you’ll need to work towards too as the two of you grow close. Search for a similar activity; perhaps try out a kayak instead of a paddleboard (riding inside a kayak might make your kids feel more secure, giving them a better experience). Or if they don’t seem to be interested in water sports in general, maybe try a sport that doesn’t involve water such as soccer or frisbee golf. There are so many ways to stay active and get outside with your child, you don’t have to get hung up at just one!

Have the right size stand up paddle board

family with kids on a paddle board

A big part of making sure that stand up paddle boarding with your kids is easy and enjoyable is ensuring you have the best sized SUP board. To make sure it is stable enough and ensure the safety of you and your child and make it easier for you both to balance, add their weight to your weight, and after that make sure you have an SUP board that will accommodate the total weight. If the SUP board is too little, the trip will be unsteady and more difficult than it needs to be – which isn’t fun for anyone.

I weigh 155lbs and when Nora began she weight 60lbs. We wanted to find a new board around 11′ 6″, and the ISLE Classic Stand-Up Paddle Board or the California Board Company Stand-Up Paddle Board were a couple of great choices, both of which have weight capacities up to about 240lbs for this size.

Motivate them constructively

I never hesitate to improve my strategy for helping Nora become a better stand up paddle boarder, and I am constantly motivating her in a constructive, positive way. If you become extremely pushy, overbearing, or too much like an insane hockey dad it will really tarnish an otherwise enjoyable experience. You want to know that your kid loves the sport, which means they should feel as comfortable doing it as you do. Forcing them or pressuring them works against you, making your child feel less comfortable and less likely to want to ride on your paddleboard again. You should find a calm lake you can bring your child to, give them some tips on how to manage their SUP board correctly, and then sit back and let them figure it out.

Making fond memories together

Most likely, your kids will come to love the outdoor sport at least as much as you do. If you spend a lot of time stand up paddle boarding with kids, encouraging them, showing them neat things from a safe place out on the water and your paddleboard and taking adventures with them, chances are they will be a few of your kids’ most cherished memories of a day out on the lake with mom or dad. They will most likely want paddle boards of their own on the water someday and begin to make an effort to learn to paddleboard sooner than you’d expect if you’re patient.

Significant skill progression

Your kids could even surpass you in skill when it comes to paddle boarding. If they have an early start learning the activity, they may have an advantage and a head begin to learn it really well. The better you motivate and encourage your child, the more you will likely see them grow and develop their skills. When it comes to paddle boarding with kids, it might surprise you how quickly a child can pick up paddling and become good at it, especially if you allow them room to practice and grow comfortable at their own pace. If your child shows signs of significant skill with a paddleboard, they may also enjoy learning similar fun, challenging water sports such as using a kayak or learning to surf or race.

Be accepting of the outcome and of your kids

Also be understanding of the possibility that your kids don’t end up loving paddle boarding as much as you do. Sometimes one bad SUP experience or fall can cause a kid to not to like an activity like this anymore, and to some degree, accidents and loss of balance that make your trips less pleasant will be out of your control. Or your kid might just prefer a different way of spending time with you outside. Either way, be patient with them and accepting of their views on the activity in the end.

Finding the right paddleboard for you and your kids

If you are ready to begin paddleboarding with kids of your own, finding the right size and type of board is the important first step. At Paddle Sesh, we offer some of the best brands of paddle boards, surf boards, and equipment for water sports, whether you are riding an SUP board together with your kids or finding small, child-sized boards for them to start learning to paddle on as well as tips for beginners to help you and your child learn to paddleboard together.

Remember to prioritize safety

Remember to be safe when taking your small child out on the water, whether you’re on a paddleboard, a kayak, or any other type of vessel. You should have your child in a life jacket or flotation device at all times (you should be as well), and you should always keep an eye on your child, especially if they begin to practice paddling their own paddleboard.

Make sure you only bring your child into areas of water that are calm and that you know will not create excessive danger of getting lost or falling (right next to a dam or out on the ocean near a current could be a threat to the safety of you and your child). Avoid any place that you know has a lot of rocks or other debris in the water as well; your child could be hurt if they fall of the paddleboard onto rocks or large branches while standup paddleboarding.

A lot of people even enjoy paddleboarding at night. We recommend you hold back on taking your child paddleboarding after dark until after you are sure your child is great at paddleboarding and will be safe going with you at night. Going paddleboarding during the day is a safer way for you and your kid to see what you’re doing, especially if you are just beginning to know how to paddleboard properly. If the two of you do go out on the water at night, make sure you both have adequate lighting on your paddleboards.

Paddleboarding with our great equipment

Let us be your resource for paddleboarding and water activities! In addition to great products, we have tips and guides on learning to paddle board for the first time, all the different types of activities you can try on your paddleboard, how to find a correct size of board, and more. Let us know how we can help you; contact us, and we will get back to you promptly to answer any inquiries you have!

References and Sources:

Bicycling. Beginner Cycling Tips – Cycling For Beginners

Fit Day. 7 Unique Ways to Get a Full Body Workout

Goosehill. Top 6 Lakes in North America You Should Go Paddle Boarding On

Inflatable Boarder. SUP Racing 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide



Keeper Sports Products.

Paddling. SUP Surfing for Beginners

REI Co-op. How to Choose a Stand Up Paddleboard

REI Co-op. Stand Up Paddle Boarding for Beginners

Very Well Family. The Dangers of Putting Too Much Pressure on Kids

Yale Environment 360. Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health

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