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Any tips to help making bath time a more enjoyable experience for all concerned?

Hi Betty, I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter who absolutely hates having a bath. Initially she used to scream just when she had her hair washed but now she is very anxious about even getting in to the bath. Most of the toddlers I know enjoy their bath time, playing with toys etc but she cries and screams throughout the whole process now refusing to play with any of her toys and asking to get out the minute she is in. We have tried distracting her with talking about other things, encouraging water play and of course have gotten cross with her for the ongoing performance but this makes it worse. This has been going on now for about a year but has gotten progeressivey worse over this time. We aren`t sure why she dislikes it so much and wondered if you had any ideas about what it is and if you had any tips to help making bath time a more enjoyable experience for all concerned!

Betty...
Answer: Hi,
it is so hard when your child is doing something different to what you think other kids are doing. Firstly refrain from comparing as it distracts you from looking at only your child, her needs and how you can best help her. It is useful to get an idea of what others are doing – this is normal and natural – but know you need to refocus back onto your own situation. I would go with her flow. What else doesnt she like? Tactile sensations in general, eg, clothes on her skin; being exposed; being overwhelmed.

Depending on the diagnosis i would recommend different options. For example if she is overwhelmed I would recommend a foot bath that you use and then she can use it to wash her feet. You can try with a face washer to give her a sprucing else where. Ensure she feel safe as she will learn that her needs are important if you try and force the bath routine on her. Have a bath yourself, enjoy it and ask her to help you getting washed – this is to role model that it is fun for you but in no way meant to manipulate her into getting it there with you. I`d say she is still in nappies so worst case scenario use a face washer for dirty hands, feet and face, and wipes for nappy changes.

You really need to avoid forcing this situation as it is not only about the bath time. You need to consider (this will sound harsh but gently reflect on each point) your respect for her – how do you want to respond to her needs – by ignorning her; by comparing her to others; by making her try to be like others; by making yourself feel like a good mum becasuse she has had her bath. In your minds eye as a 90 year old grandmother looking back in time how would you like to have handled this situation, or how would you like your own daughter to handle this situation with her own child. Look at your feelings and thinking at the time – it would be great to write these down and look for thoughts that dont make sense or feelings that are very strong in relation to the situation. Contact me via www.beingamother.com for more infomation.
Betty

Answered: 01 Dec 2007
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