Once upon a time, Talia (age 3) did not like baths. If you tried to give her a bath, she would scream and cry. She would hang her head over the side of the tub so you couldn’t wash her hair. It used to be a fight to get her to take a bath.
But now, Talia loves baths! She doesn’t cry a bit (unless you try to drain the tub while she’s still in it), and she will verbally admit that baths are fun. Now she doesn’t want to get out of the tub!
How did it happen? How did I turn this bath loather into a bath lover? Well, today I am going to share the techniques I used. So if you have a child or a sibling who doesn’t like baths, perhaps these tips will make bathtime a little more bearable.
Talia’s theme song for bathtime is “Rubber Duckie” by Ernie from Sesame Street. This song is about how much Ernie loves his rubber duckie and how fun baths are, and it helped brighten the mood of many baths. She even asked for a duck for her third birthday.
Music is good for distracting little ones from the parts of baths they don’t like and making bathtime a more positive experience. Bathtime-themed songs like “Rubber Duckie” especially help to show that baths are a good thing–not torture!
2: Keep the environment calm.
Besides the music, a quiet environment is helpful to discourage wailing. Rather than talking over the little one’s yelling, try to talk with a quiet voice.
Pro tip: Let the child count to three before you help them into the tub.
3: Ask questions.
It is all about manipulation. If you can get them to admit out loud that they like baths before they decide upon an opinion, that helps a lot. Start with easier questions, like “Do you like rubber duckies?” and then work your way up over several baths. The ultimate goal is to be able to ask, “Are you so excited for your bath?!” and get a positive response.
4: Keep them distracted by positive things.
Ultimately, how you keep a child from hating the bath is by distracting them. For example, distracting their senses. (That’s part of the reason music is so helpful.) Let them feel the bathwater in a cup as you fill up the tub, and tell them to listen to the bath being filled up and copy the sound. Bath toys are also a good way to distract them from the negative aspects of the bath.
Pro tip: Find the specific things they don’t like about baths, and trick them. For example, washing hair isn’t fun, so Selah made it into a game. She puts a rubber duck in a cup of water, pours it over Talia’s head, and asks Talia to go get the rubber duck. Then, while Talia is getting it, she pours another cup of water on her head!
5: Let them make the smaller choices.
Kids like to think that the big choices like “Should I have a bath?” are up to them. They like to be in control. However, they don’t get to make that choice, so give them smaller choices to make instead. “Which” questions are good for this–”Which toy would you like?” or “Which towel color do you want?” Even if you already know what their answer is, asking them anyway helps them to feel more civilized.
6: Be patient.
The biggest component of the transformation is time. Don’t get frustrated with them if they don’t like baths right away. It takes time!
I hope these tips are helpful, but a lot of them may not work until later in the process. But be patient, and your bath loather may yet become a bath lover. =)
What do you think?
Do you know any kids who just don’t like bathtime? Have any tricks for manipulating kids in general? Let me know!