My seven year old daughter has been bathing by herself for some time now, but I find I have to send her back in for another "rinse" quite frequently as I can still see suds and bubbles in her hair from her shampoo. I think the problem is two-fold in that:

  1. She is using too much soap despite didactic suggestion about how to "measure out" the right amount.

  2. She simply doesn't rinse well enough. On this count, the background knowledge that she has been fearful of getting water in her face since she was a baby/toddler and that while she has mostly moved past this fear, I think she may still be a bit trepidatious about it, is probably important.

How do I make sure she gets all the soap out while still honoring her privacy and without having to have her come to me and get "checked" before she can get dressed all the time?

  • Could you please explain a little how her privacy is a factor in this? If she's not able to wash her hair properly, is she old enough to not want to be seen naked in the shower by her own mother?
    – SQB
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 7:55
  • 1
    You could give her only the right amount in a paper cup (we got to fill the cap of the bottle when I was a kid) to help with the measuring part.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 14:42
  • @ATS yes. She is seven and is beginning to care. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:36
  • Okay, I wanted to know whether it was coming from her or from you.
    – SQB
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 6:20
  • Thanks for the edit @ATS, for some reason, there was a glitch with this one when I wrote it and the numbering function wasn't working (everything was getting a two!) I had intended to come back to it - now I don't have to!! Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 13:40

6 Answers 6


My nine year old boy constantly had soap in his hair after showering, despite being in there long enough to rinse Chewbacca (of Star Wars fame) thoroughly. We installed a hand held shower head (so he could get it right up close to his head,) and it solved the problem. This might work for you too, since your daughter will be able have enough control to rinse well and not get any water in her face.

Here's another bit to think about: If her hair is pretty clean to begin with, the shampoo will suds too much even if she IS using the right amount. If her hair isn't greasy, sweaty, or have any "debris" in it, I would suggest that maybe every other day shampooing might help. It won't suds up so much, so she won't have as much to rinse. At the very least, it will minimize her exposure to the soap preventing dandruff/dry skin/rashes that may develop from residue left behind.

My last suggestion is that if you think she's just not doing it long enough maybe a song is the answer. Such as, decide how long you think she should be rinsing, then find a song she can sing that takes about that long (or multiple repetitions of a shorter song, etc) and have her sing it out loud. This way, you can be outside the bathroom "listening" to her rinse (respecting her privacy), and it will provide her with a "timer" she can take in the tub. I found that my son, who is easily distracted, is less so if he has something to keep his mind busy while he needs to do something with his hands, and vice versa (he has something to do with his hands when he needs to mentally focus). A song might make it fun too, and anything fun is more likely to get done!

  • I'm thoroughly enjoying the statement, "despite being in there long enough to rinse Chewbacca." I'll also keep your second paragraph in mind for the future. For now she only washes her hair every third day or so anyway. For some reason she doesn't seem to like using the hand-held??? Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 5:44
  • When he gets too much shampoo in his hair tell him you'd just as soon kiss a wookie.
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 11:34
  • @balanced mama I thought about your question a bit more and read the comment above that questions your desire to "honor" your daughter's privacy and here are my thoughts: perhaps she doesn't quite deserve total privacy yet. Maybe she still needs a "pop in" every few minutes to remind her to stay on task. Maybe she just gets bored with rinsing after apprx 30 seconds. Or, she forgets to rinse altogether. My son forgets to WASH at all sometimes. When she can care for herself like a big girl, she can be by herself like a big girl. My son is nine and he isn't there yet.
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:37
  • @balanced mama in regards to the not wanting to use the shower head, if that's really the issue (see my comment above- I don't think the shower head is to blame...) maybe there are different settings on the head - such as, stream, massage, water saver, etc that she could change?
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:44
  • @Jax it only really has two settings and is on the gentlest one of the two default. I don't think the shower head is to blame at all either :-) she just doesn't want to hold it - though she can't give me any sense about why not. Point is, unfortunately the shower-head being able to be hand-held just doesn't help (it would be so wonderful if it did). Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 0:09

Perhaps cleaning her hair without shampoo is a better match for her. There are many resources detailing methods to go "shampoo-free". Some involve water only, others involve a small amount of baking soda or other ingredients. In general, it takes about 2-6 weeks to make the transition, so good to make the change over a school break or other time period where there is less worry about appearance for a while. Once she makes the transition, then she won't need to worry about getting shampoo in her eyes while washing her hair.

I had found it nearly impossible to get the shampoo lather completely out of my hair when I was washing with soft water. I made the change to shampoo-free during my maternity leave 4 years ago and haven't used shampoo since.

  • Poo free might be the way to go. She's still young enough that her hormones probably aren't making her hair super greasy. The transition would probably be easy--especially since she's only washing her hair every few days right now anyway. Put a bottle of baking soda water and a bottle of apple cider vinegar and water in there and squirt away! Be careful with the ACV, though, too much will make your hair look greasy
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 0:34

Don't have her wash her hair in the shower. Wash it at the sink or using a bowl instead, like at the hairdresser's.

That way, your daughter can be fully clothed, or at least enough to respect her privacy.

You could even make it a game, playing hairdresser, washing each others hair. By washing yours, she can see how much and how thorough she needs to rinse to get rid of all the suds.

Alternatively, you could try having her take a shower while wearing her bathing suit or something similar, just a couple of times, to see what goes wrong without invading her privacy.


A few ideas for you to consider:

  1. Have her knock on the wall to call you when she's done -- or just go stand at the ready when you hear the water go off. She can lean to one side, open the door a few inches, and let you check her, before she goes to the trouble of drying off and getting dressed.

  2. Buy her a visor (it's like a baseball cap without the dome part), and have her wear that to keep her face dry. I put one of these on my mother-in-law when I wash her hair.

  3. She can put a washcloth over her face just in case. My mother-in-law does that. She can hold the washcloth with one hand and use the other to swish her hair around.

  4. Try a shorter hair style.

  5. Explain that leaving some soap in will make it harder to brush and comb, and can give her an itchy scalp.

I will describe how I go about problem solving with my children. (Maybe you already do this, or something similar.)

We sit down on something comfortable (e.g. sofa) with a clipboard and a pencil. I say, let's brainstorm some possible solutions to such-and-so problem. We take turns. No solution is too far out to be written down. This is not the stage for nixing ideas.

Then we each get to cross some out, saying why. Hopefully you'll end up with at least two reasonable options.

Sometimes, as a parent, you have to accept an option which you know has very little likelihood of being carried out, or of working. But you hold on to the list, and come back to it if needed. It helps if you agree on a back-up plan during the original brainstorming-negotiating session.

I think I probably got this procedure from one of the parenting books by Faber and Mazlish.

  1. Buy mirror.
  2. Mount mirror on wall near shower.
  3. After next shower, point to mirror. Point to hair. Point to bubbles in said hair.

If this doesn't work, schedule an appointment with an optician.

  • correction: buy 2 mirrors. The bubbles are almost never in the front. Gotta get that double mirror action going on to see the back of one's head ...
    – Jax
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 4:20

Another option:

  1. Wash her hair yourself one more time.
  2. Calculate the amount of water you required to get the shampoo out of her hair throughly.
  3. Next time, give her the pre-calculated amount of water and tell her to rinse her hair with that water till that bucket is empty.
  4. Teach her to put most of the water on the back of her head since the water, while going down, will flow through rest of her head/hair and will take away the shampoo remains from the remaining parts of the head and hair.

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