Aoife Lee looks at the most common challenges parents face at bathtime.
Warm soapy bubble baths is a lovely way for a parent to spend an evening winding down.
However, when it becomes a battle ground with our children it’s an entire different experience. For many parents who are finding bath time stressful, the main issues for our children are often resistance to washing hair, getting water near their face and refusing point blank to get into the bath in the first place. Often it’s the feeling of dread that overwhelms both the parent and the child.
What’s most important is firstly to figure out what might be triggering their upset. Did your child get a fright? Maybe they had a slip in under the water, or a tricky hair washing situation where water or soap got into their eyes, nose, mouth and ears. What you might be seeing as the suggestion of bath time approaches, your child getting really upset for what you think comes from nowhere.
What all parents want is bathtime to be part of what’s often the bedtime routine, we want it to be fun for our child and an opportunity for them to relax while feeling fresh and clean! So what can we do to ensure that bathtime becomes a less stressful and happier experience for mums and children?
The good news is that the more we reassure our children the more their bathtime fear will begin to fade.
Be patient – Go at their pace
Firstly be as patient as you can be. I know there’s a task at hand however if you go at their pace and are relaxed this can gently encourage positive feelings about bathtime.
We can do this by either starting off allowing them play in the bath (without water) with their clothes on as this gives them the feeling of being in the bath environment with little or no stress.
Another stepping stone can be filling the shower basin up with water, so that they can sit in the shallow waters with their favourite toys while also having a wash. Sometimes getting into the bath with them can help and can also be fun for both parent and child.
Make it fun with a bubble mountain
You can introduce lots of fun activities that make being in the water more comfortable. Distractions can be great fun such as novelty facecloths and waterproof books to water crayons, which allow our children to write and draw all over the bathroom tiles and bath but are easy to clean off afterwards.
Alternatively, you can get kiddie’s foam that creates lots of clean mess and fun too! If they continue to show resistance create a ‘bubble mountain’. This is where your child blows into a straw while in warm soapy water; this blowing automatically builds a mountain of suds, the activity itself provides two things; the sheer excitement and fun as well as the blowing which allows the entire body to calm.
This is great for children who are old enough to understand not suck the straw. What we’re trying to create is positive associations with water and being in the bath while moving away from the anxiety that has been created over a period of time.
Tackling the hair wash
This is one of the most common challenges parents have at bath time. Your child may be happy as Larry in the bath; however, when it comes to having water near their face, it can often trigger a reflex fear of their face being submerged in the water.
So, what can we do to make it easier? If your child has got short hair, use a spray bottle with a nozzle or a container that has a controlled flow.
Alternatively, you should use a plastic pitcher with a rubber lip that rests on your child’s forehead while you pour the water over their head. This prevents the water from going in their eyes.
Another idea is to hold a facecloth firmly over their eyes while they direct their head ‘right up to the sky’.
Finally, it is important to note, fussing at bath time is very common, and although at the time we may never see the end it’s more often than not a phase that we need to support our children through.
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