Jack has been the perfect child, mostly. There are two things that make him just slightly not-perfect; but who wants to be totally perfect anyways? Way too much pressure!
Jack doesn’t sleep very well at night, and he hates, and I mean hates, bath time, or really anything that has to do with water. Today, I’m going to share some tips for overcoming a fear of water.
Jack’s fear of water all started back in February. Up until then, he loved bath time! The first time I gave him a bath after he got his ear tubes put in, he screamed in terror. Because it was probably the first time in a long time he could really hear things clearly (because his ears had so much fluid in them since the time he was born) I think the sound of water must have scared him, and it might have traumatized him. Of course, this is all speculation, but whatever the reason, Jack hates water. This is how he typically looks during bath time (imagine accompanied jumping and screaming.)
Doesn’t that just break your heart? I know it breaks mine!
So, as one might expect, we all dread bath time. And we’ve tried just about everything we could think of. While he still has some issues with bathtime, he has overcome his fear of going in the pool. Here are a few ways we’ve helped him.
1) Go Slowly
Forcing your child to do something they are terrified of is likely to just reinforce their fear. With water, I wouldn’t recommend just dunking them in the water. In some cases, this might work, but we haven’t had much success with forcing Jack to do anything (he is incredibly stubborn.) Before we put him in the bath tub, we put his new Disney Planes and Disney Pixar Cars toys on the ground, and let him play with them there. We slowly moved them to the edge of the bath tub, and revved them up on the edge. Because he had never played with these toys before, he was very intrigued, and didn’t seem to notice that we were getting closer to the water.
2) Splash in the water
After playing with the toys outside the tub, we put them into the bath. I showed Jack how they were still so much fun in the bath tub, and how they worked. The boat we got was especially made for water, and it came with a car that was made to kind of skim across the water. I showed him how that worked, and splashed a little bit. We found that splashing before going into a bigger area of water works well with Jack. We went to the pool once, and it wasn’t until we splashed in a small puddle of water that he was able to get into the pool without crying.
3) Have Lots of Distractions
Beyond having toys to play with, I’d recommend filling the tub with bubble bath, or even bringing a container of bubbles into the bathroom to blow at your child. If you are able to distract them enough from the “scary” water, it might help them calm down. Try and bring in items that they typically love, and if they are water friendly, try and incorporate them into your bath time routine.
Speaking of bath time routine, make sure you have one! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but if you develop a routine your child can count on, they will start to remember that bath time always starts and ends the same way.
5) Use a Cup with Holes
Even children that love baths probably hate the hair washing part the most. When we bought Jack’s baby bath tub, it came with a little cup that had holes in the bottom of it, that made it so the water that went splashing on him when we washed his hair and body wasn’t quite so intense. I highly recommend getting something like this if your child hates getting their hair washed. Jack always used to think it was fun to see the water trickle out like a water fall!
6) Let Them Take the Lead
The entire time he was in the bath, Jack did not sit down. When I tried to get him to, he started crying, so I decided it was best to let him go at his own pace. That made bath time so much easier. We let him make him his own games, and went with the flow. At one point, he wanted us to wash the cars at the same time we washed his hair. Somehow, that made him feel better about getting his own hair washed.
7) Keep Them In Until the Tears Stop
This is something Forrest has always been very adament about — Jack does not get out of the bath tub or swimming pool until he stops crying. He always felt like if he associated the end of his bath time with tears, he would always cry. Sometimes this results in very long baths, but I think it pays off.
8) Be Patient
Most of all, be patient with your child. Try and put yourself in their shoes — they are young, haven’t come to understand that they aren’t going to get sucked down the drain, or that water really isn’t scary. It can be extremely frustrating when your child is terrified of something
If your child does have a fear of water, just know that “this too shall pass.” What techniques have you used to help your child overcome a fear of water?