If so, you are not alone. Many children dislike having their hair washed, and bath time can become quite fraught. Hopefully, you will find some of these tips helpful.
There are usually reasons why your toddler is afraid of having their head in water and it is quite often a matter of figuring out what exactly is bothering them and then working out an appropriate strategy. Many children, for example, are terrified of the plug hole and the sucking sound the water makes as it goes down. Others dislike the sensation of pressure on their heads, or water near their face. Some experts say that a fear of water is quite natural on a primal level and that a toddler’s water phobia will not ease up until they feel more in control.
You could try a few of these things:
1. Let your toddler see you washing your own hair in the bath and encourage them to help you lather up the soap and rinse off. Normalising hair washing will help them to understand it more. If make washing your own hair fun with bubble play, singing and smiling, they may start to like it more.
2. Ease up on the number of times you wash your child’s hair. You can even use washcloths to gently semi-wash it if they are really terrified. Kid’s hair isnt as oily as adult hair so you can go for longer without washing it.
3. Play lots of watery games generally such as water play in the garden, pouring water in and out of cups, washing up with lots of bubbles and so forth. Even a trip to feed the ducks at the park can become an interesting discussion about swimming, floating and water.
4. Don’t wash your child’s hair at every bath time; let them enjoy some bathing without their head being submerged. Lots of fun bath toys will help your toddler enjoy bath time with lots of splashing and distraction. Be clear about when you are and are not going to wash your child’s hair, never take them by surprise if they are nervous.
5. Reward charts may be helpful for older toddlers; perhaps they can get a small bath duck when they let you wash their hair, stickers and treats will often be great motivation. Praise their bravery every time.
6. Swimming goggles and snorkels are a wonderful way to get kids used to having their face in the water without them realising it. You can even put gold coins in the bath for them to find underwater.
7. It probably goes without saying, but please use gentle shampoos and toiletries in the bath. Toddlers are often concerned about getting stingy chemicals in their eyes, and rightly so.
8. Remember that over time, it is more than likely that your child will outgrow their phobia and that everything you do before then will tell them a lot about how seriously you take their fears. Lots of reassurance and cuddles from you will help them feel secure and confident.