Teaching your child to take a shower should be a fun and exciting experience that builds independence and responsibility. While a shower-competent kid doesn't leave a tub full of dirty water, it's also harder to assist the showering process without soaking yourself, too. Since many young children are afraid of getting water in their eyes, it may be easier to wait until your tyke cooperates when getting her hair washed and doesn't shriek if a few drops of water get on her face.
Place the bath mat in the bottom of the tub while your child is taking a bath and turn the shower on a low pressure. Point the shower head straight down so your child can move in and out of the shower stream. Let her play with her bath toys under the stream of water and explain that taking a shower is like washing herself under a sprinkler. Encourage her to try standing under the water herself so she can see how nice the water feels. Don't force her under the shower if she resists.
Wash your own body, or bare arm, under the stream of water and encourage her to follow the same steps on her body using her own washcloth. If she doesn't scrub herself with enough pressure, place your hand over hers while moving the washcloth over her skin so she can feel optimal pressure when cleaning herself. Explain that, unlike taking a bath, in a shower she should scrub herself while standing up.
Explain that washing her hair involves stepping in and out of the shower stream. Have her wet her hair under the shower, turn away from the water to massage shampoo in her hair and turn back under the water to rinse her hair clean. Show her how to tussle her fingers through her hair while standing under the shower so she rinses out all the shampoo. Washing her own hair properly is one of the most challenging steps, and will likely require the most assistance of the entire shower.
Things You Will Need
- Non-slip bath mat
- 2 washcloths or body sponges
- Tear-free body wash/shampoo
Let your child take several bath-showers as described above, or co-shower until she becomes comfortable with the concept of standing under the shower stream.
Don't let your child shower by herself until she's able to complete each step of taking a shower accurately and safely, such as holding on to the rail or side when washing her feet, dispensing an appropriate amount of soap on her washcloth, and thoroughly washing her hair and genital region. Understand that many children won't be able to shower completely by themselves until the age of 6 or 7.
Don't force your child to take a shower if she prefers baths. Many young children are afraid of getting water on their eyes, in which case it's fine to keep taking baths. In the meantime, teach her to wash herself in the tub and help as necessary.