Bathing Hassles in Younger Children

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This is a selection from the book Raising Children Who Think For Themselves by Dr. Eisa Medhus. From the chapter titled Specific Child Rearing Challenges - How to Handle Them to Encourage Self-Direction, the following introduction is offered.

"The best way to make children good is to make them happy." - Oscar Wilde

Here are some inner-directed suggestions that will help with some of the most trying child-rearing difficulties we may stumble upon. All of these approaches are designed to preserve your children's ability to rely on internal dialogue instead of external influences to assess and correct their behavior. Using this section as a ready reference will help you raise a self-directed child, even if it means carrying the book, tattered and tear-stained, to the market, in the car, or at home. There are some challenges that, I hope you will never have to face, but others will be as inevitable as a pimple on prom night.

To get to self-direction, there are a few universal caveats that apply to the described behavior. First, our children need to understand and agree with both the need for the rule and the consequence for breaking it. Only when they come to agree with our rules, through their own internal dialogue, will they become self-directed. Second, look to your own parenting strategy as the possible source of some of the problem. Are you over-controlling or over-protective? Either trait can elicit an externally directed response, as your children react to an unhealthy situation. Third, remember for all these parenting challenges how important it is for you as parents, to model the right behavior. If you're expecting your children to act one way and you act another, the double standard will throw a monkey wrench into their whole internal dialogue machinery.

And lastly, don't forget to laugh.

Bathing Hassles in Younger children

Why They Do It
Let's face it. Our younger kids can always find something more important to do than bathing, at least from their perspective.

Logical Consequences
Let your children know that bathing is not a choice. But deciding if Daddy or Mommy shampoos their hair, choosing whether story time or bath time comes first and so on are choices they can make. If they still pitch a fit when bath time comes around, they should lose their right to make those small but important choices. Furthermore, they'll lose their bedtime story since they decided to fill that time with their whining, begging, and other measures of resistance.
If they refuse to take a bath, they won't be allowed to subject the public to their negligent hygiene practices. This means not going over to Trent's house to play, not going to the movies, not joining you on your errands, and so on.

Solutions Toward Self-Direction
Give choices: "Do you want to brush your teeth or bathe first?" "When you've cleaned up, then you can go with me to the grocery store."
Use impartial descriptions and information: "Dirty children aren't allowed in the grocery store." "We believe in cleanliness in our family."
Use questioning: "What are our rules about bathing?" "What would be the consequences if you never took a bath?"
Use the minimalist parent approach: "Howie...bath time now!"
Use humor: Pretend you don't see your child and say to your parenting cohort in crime: "Have you seen Larry? I can't find him. All I see is a wiggling lump of coal in the middle of his room."
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