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Bathing a Child Who Hates Taking a Bath

By the way some children scream when taking a bath, you’d think their life is being threatened. But how do you say ‘dear, it’s only water!’ to someone as young as a toddler, or as irrational as a pre-schooler?

Children react differently to baths. Some enjoy it so much that they start squealing the moment you take them out of the water. Others dislike--- and are even frightened --- by baths. And then there are those who see-saw between the two: one day they like it, the next day they hate it!

So, what do you do when your child dislikes taking baths so much?

Some parents adapt a ‘do-everything-to-get-it-done’ mentality. They are more than willing to gently but firmly hold their kids down a tub in order to get the soaping and rinsing done amidst all the fidgeting and screaming. Ten minutes later the job is done, and everyone can forget all about it, right? Wrong!

Don’t force your kids into a bath. While some kids can shrug off a forced bathing episode, others may become traumatized by it. This can result to kids having difficulty trusting you again. They may even develop a permanent fear of water.

What you should do is determine what it is exactly that your child doesn’t like about bathing, and adjust accordingly. For example, some kids are uncomfortable with the water temperature; perhaps the water is too hot or cold. Others don’t like being dunked; so maybe you can opt for the shower instead of the tub.

Other kids feel suffocated by a closed bathroom; maybe bathing them in a tub set in the yard might help. Some just hate the bathing products you’re using! Kids are uncomplicated; you just need to vary certain elements and they’d be more than willing to see it as a totally different situation.

Proceed slowly; desensitize them gradually into the bathing situation. You can begin by just splashing their feet with water, then their knees, making your way up slowly but surely. Before your kid knows it, he’s wet all over and the bath’s done!

Make bathing more fun! Make it an adventure. Don’t be too strict; let them splash about. Set it up in place they’re free to wet the floor and the walls. You may even join in the bath with them so that they can see you having fun with them.

Distracting a kid from noticing that he’s bathing may feel sneaky and underhanded, but then again, you’re parents --- you do almost all things in a sneaky and underhanded way! So throw toys in the tub, something they can play with so they won’t notice your efforts to scrub them clean. Perhaps you can turn on the radio or the TV, so they can attend to something they like as they’re splashing about. Get fun shampoos and soaps --- like those with fancy shapes and colors. Blow bubbles.

If nothing else works, relax. For most kids, dislike of bathing is just a phase! In the meantime, explore alternatives like a sponge bath. Rest easy, they would outgrow it naturally.

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