Take a minute and look at the bath time situation literally from your toddler’s point of view. The bath is not an inviting place for him, sitting below the cold edges of the bath, the forceful sound of running water, the noise of the water slurping down the drain, the coldness and harshness of the faucets if he accidentally touches themâ€¦ In his eyes, this is not a soft and comforting place to be.
There are many -lines of attack’ for dispelling your toddler’s fears of and dislikes for bath time and making it, instead, an enjoyable part of his daily routine. But patience is the operative word here, making sure to take this coaxing role slow. Your efforts need to be persistent. It’s important that you never force him into the bath or use threats to get him in as this will only have an even more detrimental long term effect.
You can make it great!
But there are ways that you, as a parent, can ease him through this unfamiliar territory to the point where bath time is a great time of his day.
As with most issues concerning children, distraction is the key. Choose some special, brightly coloured toys that are kept solely for bath time. Along with this throw in some soap crayons, a fun toy-plug, an animal soap holder, a brightly coloured face cloth and bath sponge and don’t forget to choose a bright, fun anti-slip bath mat so he will actually want to get into the bath and sit down on!
Allow an older, responsible sibling to bath with him, or just put him in the bath with you. This way he will see that others he trusts are not afraid of the water and he will more easily copy these behaviours.
The good and the bad
Keep a special treat to give him when he is in the bath, something like a favourite biscuit, juice or toy. This way he will associate the good treat with the -bad’ space – and the good will always override the bad!
If he enjoys trying to sing-a-long to kiddies songs then ensure you play these loud enough that you can both do this from the bathroom.
But if you have absolutely no joy perhaps try to wash him in the shower with you. He will probably find this great fun, knowing he is safe in your arms. If your shower is a shower bath, put the plug in so he gets the best of both worlds – a shower and a bath in one!
Hair to bath for
Hair washing time can be horrendous in the best of families! But your little one needs to learn that washing hair is just as important a ritual as washing his body is.
Once again, be creative with various tricks – a particular favourite song could be reserved exclusively for this routine, you could get him to wash his sister’s doll’s hair (with her permission!) before you then wash his, or if you are in the bath with him then let him wet your hair and -wash’ it too. Involving him in all these processes is vital and will make the world of difference, as will the element of distraction.
Keep the water and the shampoo well out of his face, eyes and ears as this could set him off in the wrong direction.
Don’t insist on a bath or hair wash at a time of day when you know he is irritable. Remember that you are trying to instill good hygiene methods here so the more effort you put in now, the easier the road will be in the future for both of you.