For a mom, floating peacefully in a tub full of bubbly warmth for half an hour sounds like heaven, but for a kid, not always so much. Seems like every kid goes through a phase or two of not wanting to bath. Just when they’re loving it, or at least okay with it, they change their minds. From their perspective, it’s the end of a day of fun, bedtime is near, or they may have new misgivings about water. Water is weird and imagine how much weirder it must seem to kids—it’s translucent, looks like nothing, floats some objects but not others, and constantly changes shape. And just when they think they know it, it does something different than they expected. That can be scary.
For the next time your kid won’t budge to the bath, or you find yourself caught in that strange vortex where you are trying to get your kid to sit down in the tub while they are simultaneously clawing at you to get out but neither of you is winning (kind of looks like a hug but it’s totally not), you are both soaking wet, and both want to cry, here’s my advice:
- Breathe: Take a breath. Count to five. And tell yourself this cautious love/hate thing your child has with water is normal. It means they’re learning how shifty water can be. Water takes trust. And trust takes understanding.
- Think like a swim instructor: Maybe you don’t remember your path to liking water or how non-instinctual it can be. As a swim instructor in my teens, I know the only way to help a student trust the water is to let them figure out what it can and cannot do on their own. That’s where “engagement aids”—a.k.a. “toys,” come in, and the more and varied the better.
My bathtub has seen it all—the classic duck, pigs, surfboards, sieves, funnels, eggbeaters, turkey basters. Anything that shows your kids how water moves, changes, and reacts, will help them feel more in control and if they’re having fun, they won’t even notice what they’re learning. Boon, makes some great bath toy kits focused on how water moves and because you can assemble them any way you want, even join them together, your kids will feel that much more in control. The Pipes collection has five different pipe pieces with different functions—one has a turbine, another has a bend, and another has a double spout. Use them separately or together, in the bath or suctioned to the wall. The Cogs collection has five different brightly coloured cogs you can suction to the tub wall in different arrangements, pour water on, and create a water-powered chain. Then add their set of nine jiggly jellyfish—watch them float or stick them to the wall or each other.
Either separately or together, these sets would be a boon to my tired bath tub repertoire. I’m already imagining my kids sending a jellyfish down a waterslide run by cogs powered by a turkey baster.
Written by Kate MacDougall
Kate MacDougall is a freelance marketing consultant and writer. She is a perfectly imperfect mother, paddle boarder, and gardener, figuring out her own style as she goes with equal measures of intuition and advice. She is forever planning her next adventure.
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