I often get messages from parents begging for advice on how to get their child to bathe consistently. It can be a difficult thing to instate for some kids more than others. The real secret to child hygiene is to figure out the root of the problem. There is a reason that they're avoiding the bath or shower. Once that is remedied, you'll be able to create a kid's hygiene routine with relative ease.
Don't wait for the problem to solve itself, because it won't. Whether play or exercise, it's important to wash that sweat away! Parents are there to lead their children to a happy and healthy existence, even if sometimes leading means dragging them along. Kids don't like to bathe, but it is a life skill that needs to be perfected. Everyone showers and it isn't just to smell nice, there can be serious mental or physical ramifications for a child that refuses to shower or bathe.
Stop The Stink!
Our bubblegum foot deodorizer and grape foot deodorizer are a great stop-gap for a child that refuses to shower. Just because they have their heart set on stinking doesn't mean that you need to let them. While you can't force a kid into bathing, you can certainly eliminate sour smells on one of the most pungent parts of a child: their stinky little feet!
Finding The Cause
Often simply asking a child why they won't bathe doesn't lead to a definitive answer. It has nothing to do with being shady or deceitful. Generally children, especially younger kids, simply can't self-reflect to the point that they know why. To determine why your child doesn't want to bathe, you'll need to observe them closely. Here are some reasons and signs to watch out for.
Mental or Health Problems
The first thing that you'll want to do is rule out any sort of mental or health problems, as these will generally require professional assistance to correct. A child's refusal to wash or brush their teeth can often be a symptom of depression, bipolar disorder, deep-seated trauma, or some other mental health issue. When paired with declining academic performance or conflicts with peers you'll want to find professional help.
It's much better to have a diagnosis and work towards treatment than it is to pretend that nothing is happening and placing your bet that they'll simply 'get over it'. Some kids certainly might, but others won't find it as easy and the sooner you discover what type of care your child does (or doesn't) need, the better off you'll both be in the long run.
This is probably one of the least common reasons for a child refusing to bathe. It certainly does happen but unless there is extreme trauma involving water it's probably not severe enough to cause panic attacks. If water is causing panic attacks, that is something you'll need to take up with your pediatrician or a reputable child psychologist. More than likely your child just needs some assistance and some company during shower or bath time to alleviate their fears about what might happen in the water.
Probably the reason I see most often for a child avoiding bath-time is simply that they're distracted and would rather do something else. Watching TV or playing video games is infinitely more fun than soaping up and scrubbing down, but they don't move life forward in any significant way. The easiest way to deal with this common problem for a kid's refusal to bathe is to simply remove the distraction until they've completed the self-case routine that you've laid out for them.
Explain why it's important that they complete these tasks daily and give them a spot-check from time to time, just to ensure that it's actually getting done. If the routine stays consistent then it will eventually become second nature. Don't feel like the bad guy when you're hiding the Nintendo Switch Lite or disconnecting the WiFi, these actions are necessary to ensure that your child is able to lead a happy and successful life.
On some occasions, a child's hygiene problem might actually be an act of teenage defiance. They know it will get a reaction. Obviously this takes place most often during the teenage years. Kids will push back against any rule that is set for them as they try to figure out their own boundaries. Don't get involved in the power struggle. Let them feel as if they've won and let natural consequences occur. You better believe that if the girl your son likes tells him his breath stinks he's gonna have the cleanest teeth you've ever seen from that day forward.
It's obvious that this isn't an easy thing to fix, and no solutions will occur overnight. You'll need to tune your response to your child. Their gender, age, and attitude will all come into the equation. Don't hesitate to give it some serious thought and talk it through with both your partner and the child that refuses to get in the bath.