How to Deal With Bathtime Issues

Dear Kid Whisperer,

My two-and-a-half year old drinks the bathwater. It grosses me out. I worry about it making her sick, but, honestly, I know for sure that it is making me sick. Should I make her stop, or just let it go? If she should stop, how do I make her stop? I heard myself giving her a health seminar about the possible effects of this…probably not helpful for a toddler. -Mary, New Carlisle, Ohio

 

Mary,

Isn’t it amazing what formerly smart people will do and say when we don’t have a plan for setting and enforcing limits with kids? I, myself once told a first grader in my class that he was never going to recess ever again.

Ah, the days before I had skills. I never, ever want to relive them.

First, if something is a problem for you, then it is a problem, and it needs to stop. Also, I believe that, medically, soapy and/or dirty water (think about the things that are on, go into, and come out of your kid) can make them sick, so I think we can say that she shouldn’t drink the bathwater.

The key here is to be more strict in order to be clear about expectations. Here is how I would do this, beginning with the limit setting statement I say as I am putting her in the tub.

Kid Whisperer: “I let little girls stay in the bath who keep bathwater out of their mouths.”

Kid immediately takes a giant gulp of soapy water.

Kid: Ahhhh!

Kid Whisperer (as he picks Kid up out of the tub): Oh dear.

Kid Whisperer puts soaking wet kid on an extra-absorbant bath mat five feet from the tub. No towel is provided.

Kid Whisperer: You can come back to the tub as soon as you are ready to keep the water out of your mouth.

Kid Whisperer reads his book on the side of the tub, ignoring Kid. Kid then approaches the tub. Kid Whisperer silently places Kid back in the tub. Kid immediately ingests a quart of soapy water.

Kid Whisperer (as he picks Kid up out of the tub): Oh dear.

Kid Whisperer puts soaking wet kid on an extra-absorbant bath mat five feet from the tub. No towel is provided.

Kid Whisperer: You can come back to the tub as soon as you are ready to keep the water out of your mouth.

Kid Whisperer reads his book on the side of the tub, ignoring Kid. Kid attempts to have a staring contest with Kid Whisperer (as he picks Kid up out of the tub): Oh dear.

Kid Whisperer puts soaking wet kid on an extra-absorbant bath mat five feet from the tub. No towel is provided.

Kid Whisperer: You can come back to the tub as soon as you are ready to keep the water out of your mouth.

Kid Whisperer reads his book on the side of the tub, ignoring Kid. Kid attempts to have a staring contest with Kid Whisperer. Kid Whisperer realizes that after a few seconds, sitting on porcelain hurts his back and that we doesn’t wish to play staring contest with Kid. Kid Whisperer picks up Kid.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, dear.

Kid Whisperer puts Kid in the shower as Kid howls with the sound of ultimate suffering. Kid Whisperer realizes that he is doing nothing wrong and that this is the normal sound of a kid who isn’t getting his way anymore. Kid Whisperer quickly cleans and rinses Kid, only saying the words “Oh, dear” and nothing else.

Just repeat this each bath time. Don’t deviate from this procedure. Your kid will quickly keep water out of her mouth as soon as she realizes that there will be swift, calmly delivered, immediate consequences if she drinks the bathwater, and that resistance is futile.