A Reframing Solution for Toddlers Afraid of the Bath

Today I got a great email from a close friend of mine. He has a 3 year old son named Thomas who somehow developed a very intense fear of the bath. He would literally freak out when it was bath time and the parents, my friends, were struggling to find a solution. It was stressing THEM out too, quite naturally.

The solution came to them in a stroke of genius. They told their son it was time to make “Thomas Soup”. The big soup bowl was the bathtub, and the vegetables that go in the soup were all of the play toys (rubber duck, etc).

Naturally you can’t make “Thomas Soup” without having Thomas in there, so he happily climbed in and enjoyed being the subject of the soup.

Notice that this is indeed another great example of a reframe. Instead of bath time being fearful for Thomas, for whatever reason … it’s now fun again. I doubt his fear will return because whatever was causing it will now have vanished. He’s not going to grow up thinking that bath time is kid-soup-making time, but on an unconscious level he’ll have a more happy association to taking a bath. And that’s all the parents were after.

I wrote about another reframing example in this post about my daughter’s underwear. Check it out if you’re interested in more stories. If you’re interested in learning language techniques to solve many of the most common toddler parenting problems, check out the free lesson I have for you.

Enjoy your children,
Chris Thompson

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids

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8 Responses to A Reframing Solution for Toddlers Afraid of the Bath

  1. Krystyna Murray April 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I seem to be having the same problem with my daughter. She’s 3 but I do not give her baths I give her showers. It is a chore to wash her hair. As soon as she cant see the water she freaks out. I don’t know what to do.

    • Chris Thompson May 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      You mean as soon as she looks up, away from the water? When she tilts her head back? Time to get more creative here. Give her a mirror to see the water. Or have her lie down with her ears in the water and rinse her hair that way. Or give her something else to look at that she feels comfortable with. Or put swimming goggles on her for rinsing her hair and allow her to play around in the tub, looking under the water herself. I could go on but I hope you get my concept here … creative solutions! Distraction!

  2. Susan April 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    My 3 year old daughter is scared to sleep alone in the night. She will cry to herself everynight we leave the room and close the door. She is still sharing a room with us. I have no idea how to overcome her fear and my heart ached to see this.

    • Chris Thompson May 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      Susan – letting her cry herself to sleep is most likely the cause of this fear. I’m not a believer in letting kids cry themselves to sleep. If they are crying they have genuine emotions that are at play. Ignoring them by shutting the door won’t help. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty or anything like that – but I think it’s time to start rebuilding the “fun” for her about having her own bed and her own room. Start to think about what you can do to create an inner desire in her to have her bed to herself at night. Start by letting her keep her door open too :)

      You could get walkie talkies also. Then she can talk to you through them until she’s comfortable on her own. Unlimited possibilities here, really. But please don’t force her to cry in her room with the door closed.

  3. Belinda May 1, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    When my son was 2 he suddenly hated baths and would scream and cry. My friend had the idea to bring her daughter over and bathe the kids together as the children were good friends. And it worked a treat! He then associated bath time with fun again and has loved baths since then.

    • Chris Thompson May 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      That’s AWESOME! What a brilliant solution. I love it !!!

  4. Vanessa May 2, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    My daughter is now 4 1/2 & about a year ago became petrified of hights & flights of stairs. I have tried not to make too big a deal of this, with the hope that it’s just a phase but it seems to be getting worse. I have no idea how we can help her overcome this fear.

    • Chris Thompson May 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      Hi Vanessa – at such a young age it is possible to develop a phobia, in fact all phobias develop at these young ages. Anxieties develop at older ages, so you’re probably correct to call it a phobia.

      Phobias are causes by some event that the child perceives as traumatic. It can be something as simple as an adult (or teenager, whatever) playing a joke on them at the top of the stairs – pretending to push the child and saying “Don’t fall!”

      It can be witnessing someone ELSE falling down a staircase and imagining that it happened to you.

      Email me on this one, ok? I need to know more about how she reacts to stairs. Is she phobic only when alone? Being carried, etc? Give me a buzz by email and I’ll see what I can do to suggest come corrective measures.

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