Every bathtime it's the same story:

Me: "It's bathtime now."

Son: "I don't want a bath"

Me: "You need a bath to make you clean. You don't want to be dirty do you?"

Son: "I don't need a bath"

Me: "Why don't you choose a toy to take up to your bath with you."


(...until finally he is carried to the bathroom kicking and screaming. And, of course, after a few minutes he's enjoying himself so much he doesn't want to get out.)

My wife and I always give him plenty of warning. We've tried getting him new and exciting bath toys. We've tried letting him bring his favourite (non-electrical) toys up to the bath with him. But every time, it's the same story.

Does anyone have any suggestions of things to try?

1 Answer 1


It's about choice. It's not that he doesn't want a bath, it's that he wants to say when he has a bath. That's not possible of course, but one way that seems to work with my 3 year old is to ask "do you want your bath before x, or after x", that way he has some choice. I'm amazed how well this tends to work.

What you have to remember is that children are as intelligent as adults, just with less experience. Often 3 year olds can be reasoned with if you keep it simple, and it will get them started taking a bit of control over their own life which is a good thing. Buying them off and offering treats for what should be ordinary good behavior is self-defeating in the end, as you will end up buying their cooperation with anything, and just dragging them kicking and screaming leads them to associate baths with arguments.

I've also found that using the "big boy" card works, as in "big boys need to stay clean, and as a big boy I expect you to have a bath". Sometimes I combine the two. Occasionally nothing works and I will and up having to force things on him (I rarely have a problem getting him in the bath), but then I always remind him that I gave him a choice and he refused. It seems to work.

  • 1
    this is our strategy as well, and generally works for our now 4-year-old
    – Krease
    Dec 13, 2012 at 3:14
  • 1
    This was our strategy with our daughter and even though she was (and still is) fearful of water on her face it still worked. Giving kids some control over some aspect of things makes a huge difference. If the time for bath is non-negotiable, you can also try, "would you like a bath or a shower tonight" or even something like "would you like to play with the foam letters or your toy boats in the bath tonight" can work too. Dec 13, 2012 at 17:23

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