A couple of weeks ago, something terrible (in Lucy’s world) happened. Lucy pooped in the tub. As soon as it happened, she started crying, jumped up yelling, “poop!” and scrambled to get out of the tub! Since then, bath time had progressively gotten harder. It started with her reluctantly getting in the tub, but not wanting to play, and crying “poop!” anytime she saw a speck of dirt. Poor thing was becoming a basket of nerves in the tub (she is definitely my daughter)! It got to the point where she wouldn’t even go in the bathroom, and she would even start crying at dinner because she knew bath time was next.
My mommy/behavior analyst brain was in overdrive trying to think of what to do! Phase I of “recovery” started with me coaxing her in the bath by me going in with her while nursing. It’s a little awkward trying to nurse and wash hair at the same time, but we did it! For a few days, that’s how we did bath time. BUT that’s not a sustainable solution, right?
The next day, Lucy’s (amazing) teacher suggested we try Lu going in in her swimsuit, since she loves the pool so much (why didn’t I think of that??). So that night, I came out like a fool right after dinner, in my swimsuit, sunglasses, and hat, and said, “who wants a pool party??” Lucy got so excited about getting her swimsuit on after dinner (and she got to take her pool noodle with her) that she (still reluctantly) got in the tub. She still cried, and her little arms clung to her pool noodle, but she hung in there!
After a few nights of this, I was able to slowly get out of the tub and she would stay in on her own for a few more minutes. We also worked on, if she saw a hair or piece of dirt in the tub, to splash at it and say, “get out of here!” We told her she was strong and she was taking charge of the tub. So there she and I sat for a good 15 minutes, splashing at the tub (and at the same one piece of dirt in the tub), telling it to “get out of here!” Once again, I looked pretty ridiculous in there (the things we do for our children!).
The next day, Lucy and I went to Target and I let her pick out new bath toys. She chose a ball game that has its own net, and I also snagged a pack of bath crayons. I was hoping that, with her new skills of “taking charge of the tub,” she could maybe remember how to have fun in there again! Lo and behold, it worked! She was timid when I started getting her ready, but I reminded her of her new bath game and that she could COLOR ON THE WALLS of the bathtub (she knows that’s a big no-no) and she was all about it!
Here is my girl, loving her bath time once again! She drew all over the walls, played with her new game, and splashed around. She saw a speck of dirt and splashed it, saying, “get out here!” I was so proud. And then she cried. Because it was time to get OUT of the tub. 🙂