How do I get my 3 year old to take a bath in our new home?
Q: My 3 year old daughter hates to get a bath and I don't understand it! Before we moved, which was 4 months ago, she would love to get in the tub. But now she will do anything she can to avoid going into the tub--even going to sleep!
A: 1 If a child used to easily get into the tub but then starts to give parents a hard time about it, a parent should first attempt to figure out why). For example, if the family has just moved, there may be something about the new tub or bathroom that she doesn’t like (for example, it is more slippery). Or perhaps the routine has changed, and now bath time is at the time that her favorite show is on. It is helpful to look for clues about what a child is willing to do and what she is not, and what differentiates the two (for example, if she is more willing to take a bath during the day, this may signify that the bathroom is scary at night because it is dark). If a parent can figure out the reason for the change, she can then come up with a strategy to address the problem (for example, slip-resistant mats or decals for a slippery tub, or changing the time of the bath so it doesn’t coincide with the t.v. show or is not when it is dark).Parents should keep in mind, though, that sometimes kids just go through stages where they stop liking things that they used to like, and sometimes it is just something that they need to outgrow. A parent would also want to talk to the child’s pediatrician if there is any concern that bathing may be causing pain or physical discomfort for the child.
2) Make bath time more fun than not taking a bath Make sure that there are some really cool things to do in the bath: bath foam that can be used to color on the wall, fun toys, and so on. And make sure that there is nothing more fun to do elsewhere during the time the bath is supposed to be taken (for example, make sure all of the toys are away and the t.v. is off).
3) Don’t give the child the choice of whether to take a bath or not. It is simply something that he has to do. However, you can give him choices such as which parent bathes him, which towel to use, and so on.
4)Set a routine, so it becomes a habit. Try to do things in the same order each night, so the child just gets used to the way things go. For example, if we always take a bath right after dinner, that is when the child will get used to and expect to take a bath, as opposed to doing something else.
5)Reward good behavior Use a sticker chart to reward every time the child gets into the tub. Also, have special and something fun that he gets to do only during the bath (such as telling the child stories) and right after the bath (such as playing a specific game that he likes).
Answered by Dr. Wayne Fleisig