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Making Bath Time a Cinch

It’s always a struggle whether you are a parent or nanny.  Your toddler doesn’t like bath time.  “I don’ wanna take a bath!”  “Noooooooo!”  And then there are the tears, running away to hide behind the sofa, and acting out on occasion.  What’s the big deal?  It’s a bath, not corporal punishment.  What’s the problem here and how do you fix it?

First, you need to assess what the problem actually is.  Ask your child why s/he always wants to avoid bath time.  Common answers include the following:  bath time signals the end of the day, and your child is not wanting to separate from you or their day’s activities yet; bath time may be perceived as “boring” or a very un-fun task to endure; refusing bath time may be a way for your toddler to attempt to exercise some control in his/her life; or bath time may induce fear of drowning or injury (by striking his/her head on the edge of the tub, for example).

Once you understand what is driving your child’s behavior, you can respond accordingly.  If this is a separation issue, reassure your child that s/he can pick up where s/he left off tomorrow.  Give him/her fun things to look forward to in the next day, and emphasize that s/he needs to bathe, get ready for bed, and sleep well in order for the upcoming activities to happen and be fun the next day.  If this is a “boring” issue, then seek ways to make bath time more fun.  Bath toys, music, and other games and activities can do the trick.  If this is a control issue, allow your child some voice in his/her life (i.e., do you want to have a bath now or in 30 minutes?) but do not let your child make ultimate decisions (i.e., whether or not to take a bath at all).  If this is a fear-driven issue, then validate the fear (“I know you hit your head on the tub last night, but we’ll be more careful tonight.  I promise.”) and gently proceed with the bath.

By following these tips, you can make bath time a cinch.

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