How to Teach a Child to Take a Shower

By Rosenya Faith
Invest in a handheld shower head so your child feels more control over the spray.
Invest in a handheld shower head so your child feels more control over the spray.

If your child has lost interest in sitting in the tub, can stand up safely in the shower and doesn't mind the feeling of water from the shower head, she's ready to start taking showers. However, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to head in there on her own -- at least not if you want her to come out clean. She’ll need your guidance for a while to learn proper washing techniques, but before long she’ll be ready for bathing independence. While some kids aren't interested in showers until they approach the preteen years, others are interested much younger. Children younger than 6 should be supervised in the bathtub at all times, advises Medline Plus.

Cover the bottom of the tub with a non-slippery bath mat. Skip the bathtub appliques right now because they leave too much of the smooth floor exposed, which creates a slip hazard. Adjust the faucets to a lukewarm temperature -- similar to your child's regular bath water temperature -- and turn on the shower. Keep the water pressure low for now and angle the shower head straight down.

Help your child step into the far end of the tub, away from the overhead spray of water. Let her move into the water when she's ready, and move in and out of the stream according to her comfort level. Let her play with her bath toys or color with her bath crayons to give her time to get used to the difference between the bath and shower.

Explain how to wash in the shower; first soaping up the washcloth, washing your body outside of the water and then rinsing beneath the shower head -- like rinsing off in the sprinkler or in the rain. You can demonstrate by sticking your arm in the shower to show your child how it’s done, or slip on your bathing suit and get into the shower, too. Show your child how to hold on safely to the side when washing her feet or encourage her to sit down if she’s unsteady.

Talk to your child about washing her hair, particularly the importance of massaging the shampoo through her hair thoroughly and rinsing it all out. Hair washing in the shower can be daunting if your youngster doesn't like to get her face wet. You can help her give it a try -- having her wet her hair under the shower head, moving out of the water to wash with tearless shampoo and then returning to the water to rinse. Help her move her fingers throughout her hair to rinse out all the shampoo.

Things You Will Need

  • Non-slip bath mat
  • Bath toys
  • Bar soap
  • Washcloth
  • Tearless shampoo

Tip

If your child can’t stand getting water on her face, consider striking a compromise when it comes to washing her hair. Have her take a shower and then wash her hair separately either in the bathtub or in the kitchen sink.

Warning

Remove dangerous items, such as razors, from the shower area.

Liquid body washes can make the bathtub floor slippery, even with a bath mat. Stick with bar soap until your child is steadier in the tub.

Continue to set the water temperature for your child at first, showing her how to first turn on the cold water and then adjust the temperature with the hot water. Stay with her during his first several showers, either co-showering or outside of the tub, until she’s comfortable adjusting the temperature to avoid scalding risks.

Don't rush the transition from bath to shower. It's OK if your child prefers to continue taking baths, particularly if she's afraid of getting water in his eyes.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.