Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle of the Bathtub

So my little cherub adores the water-- as long as it's in a cup, a bowl, a sink, a street, a baby pool, a swimming pool or falling from the sky.  He does not prefer it in a bathtub.  In fact, lately, he has voiced his displeasure of bathing with a vengeance.  In some ways, I'm honestly impressed with his lung capacity and sheer vocal strength.  (This will also be good for lead roles on Broadway!--Free tix for Mom! Yay!) In other ways, it makes his long fits of crying as an infant make a little more sense.  And in other ways, it just makes zero sense at all.  I mean, he LOVES taking baths when he is at anyone else's house-- especially when visiting his Spencer grands-- this is just totally maddening.

And while we don't have a full fledged, two-parent tag-team effort to get our kid clean every single night, this is mostly because we don't force him to take a bath every single night.  (We do force him to take a sponge bath--especially when other people might notice his filth--fingernails, ears, between his toes-- you get the picture.  The nights where we utter the words, "bath in the bathtub" usually ends with crying (and it's not only Charlie-- however, a glass of wine perched on the side of the tub is helping mama).

Okay, so this has been going on for quite a few weeks.  Not super long, but long enough to be annoying and "more than a phase".   And in typical counselor style, I thought it was time for .... an intervention.  (Don't you love it when you bring work home?)

So tonight, I told C about this awesome new thing in our bathroom.  (I had a little time to create something as he continued playing in the living room-- he was clearly not coming into the bathroom when the tub was filling up.  He's smart enough to know that is a trap.) When I was finished with my little plan, I brought it out to him.

"Look at THIS!"  I said excitedly, showing him the clipboard.
(I know, I'm totally resorting to bribing/ external motivation/ token economy/ bla bla bla! 
I know I'm bad bad bad!)

As he wandered around the house, I followed him and explained that every time he takes a bath without screaming, he gets to put a sticker in one of the boxes. When all the boxes have stickers, he gets to pick a prize from a TREASURE CHEST!  He instantly stopped wandering around and looked at me.

"What I get?" he asked me with a huge grin creeping across his little face. 

"Oh, I can't tell you" I teased.  (Mostly because I got nothin' for ya kid! But I will..... I promise) "Maybe it's a little toy or something?"

"Or maybe a real turtle?" he asked.  (Um, no.  No reptiles yet.) 

"Well, probably not a real turtle.  But let's get in the bathtub so we can get that sticker!"

And after a good five minutes of dawdling, he was in the tub with no tears. (I should mention that I asked him if he would like to wash his own hair-- the source of most of his trauma-- and he eagerly agreed.  He especially loved it when I brought a mirror in so he could see his bubbly head.  Maybe I didn't need the stickers....) 

When it was finally time to get out of the tub, I started to pat him dry when he tore off the towel and grabbed the clipboard.  I praised him for earning a sticker and helped him peel it off.

"Wow, you were such a big boy with no crying.  And look, when you get two more stickers after two more baths, you will get your prize!" 

And then the little shyster looked up at me with his huge crystal clear blue eyes and said, 

"Can I take another bath now?"  

Oh my.  I'm in trouble.  


  1. Ha! Love it. I have long since been saying I am going to get some kind of sticker chart together -- but no, I have continued to battle about baths.

  2. Can I just say, THANK YOU! We have been suffering with the exact situation in our household. She is petrified of the bath tub and screams, wails, cries everytime we go there. I will try this idea on her although I don't know if she'll quite "get it" yet. Either way, it's very nice to know my child is not the only one.

  3. Well done Spahn! Excellent work, you are wise beyond your parenting years!