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Bathtime/Bedtime routine hell! Help please!!

(19 Posts)
SerenityReynolds Sat 04-Jun-16 23:17:50

Over the last few weeks, DD1's (3.4) bath and bedtime routine has gone all to hell for some reason. As soon as we tell her it's bathtime (after 10, 5 and 2 minute warnings), she suddenly turns into a totally hysterical monster. She won't go up for a bath or get in the bath - "don't want to". Sometimes we manage to persuade her in (and then we get a massive strop about getting out!) but sometimes it's impossible without us manhandling her in, something we obviously do not want to do, so she effectively gets her way about not having a bath.

Then she refuses to be dried, or put on her pull up and pyjamas. Screaming, crying, running away from us, complaining she's cold (but still refusing to get dressed or into bed under blankets). Ever more ridiculous demands around blankets/milk which on their own seem harmless in an effort to calm her down, but overall are just more stalling tactics. We then stay with her until she drops off. This used to be 10 minutes, so we didn't mind. Now some nights it's 40! Last night we lost it with her and just left her in her room - she screamed for 5-10 minutes then got herself into bed and fell asleep.

The getting dressed issues we deal with by just sitting quietly in her room and not engaging with her. She usually agrees to get dressed after a short period. We're also prepared to just leave her to tantrum once she's pushed it too far (she gets 2 warnings Re: this). It's more the bath bit that we find hard as she needs to be washed! Is this just normal boundary pushing toddler behaviour? The rest of the time, she's generally quite well behaved but we're finding this a real struggle sad Any suggestions gratefully received!

SerenityReynolds Sun 05-Jun-16 11:30:09


imip Sun 05-Jun-16 14:07:10

Don't bath her?? I used to always bath/bed routine, but it just got too problematic with one of my DCs. They now have a shower twice a week (4 DCs here, 1 possibly 2 with AsD- complicating factor) .Simplifies the process a lot.

My oldest is 9 and she is starting to want to shower more regularly, which seems to be about the time that it becomes more necessary.

SerenityReynolds Sun 05-Jun-16 15:29:32

Unfortunately, offering showers has much the same effect as above! She was absolutely fine and enjoyed baths until 2-3 weeks ago. And if we manage to persuade her in, we then have refusals to get out again, which makes me think it's boundary testing, rather than a real dislike of baths!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 15:34:38

Over tired? Start the routine earlier than you have been? Shower instead of bath or watering can in the bath? Ds used to love that.

Too many warnings perhaps? Warn her once then just pick her up and put her in the bath- I've done that many a time 😉

SerenityReynolds Sun 05-Jun-16 15:38:24

Overtiredness was my thought, so we moved the routine forward 15-20 minutes. No help sadly, but at least we get downstairs a bit earlier after all the shenanigans! confused

DH just picked her up and plonked her in eventually last night - it didn't go down well and just escalated the tantrumming.

Toomanymarsbars Sun 05-Jun-16 15:38:32

I showed my toddler a video on YouTube of someone who hadn't bathed for a few weeks. I told him if he didn't wash the flies love that and will come buzz round him allllllll day and alllllll night. He washed after that.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 15:38:38

She's old enough to realise that if she didn't have a bath then she can't watch telly/ have an extra story.

What do you do if she refuses to get out of the bath? From your posts it sounds like you are pleading with her a lot. Do you actually say to her ' time to get out now, will you pull the plug or will I?'

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 15:41:28

Sorry x posted.

Tbh, I'd let her tantrum then. Stay firm, don't plead, get her washed and bed and story. Keep the routine short so if she is over tired it doesn't escalate.

If she sees you mean business that's half the battle won.

SerenityReynolds Sun 05-Jun-16 15:53:56

Dame we will let her pull the plug or we will do it if she refuses. She then just lies down in the empty bath, complaining she's cold hmm. Then it's a choice between forcibly lifting her out or going into her room with her pyjamas and saying to her to follow when she's ready. Tbh, the latter works within a minute but then the refusal to get dressed starts (combined with ongoing complaints about being cold). I would just leave her to it, but she needs a pull up overnight, so we want to at least get that on.

Telly goes off well before bathtime. We have threatened (and followed through with) no books and not staying in the room with her, but when she's mid tantrum, it just doesn't seem to register with her.

YokoUhOh Sun 05-Jun-16 15:59:29

DS1 is the same age and the following has worked with him:

1. Saying 'no bath, no treats'.
2. Making it more exciting by racing him upstairs and letting him help run the 'bubbly bath' (loads of bubbles).
3. Interesting bath toys.
4. Letting him stay in the bath, doing his teeth in there, using bath time as an opportunity to catch up about his day.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 16:02:46

I meant no telly the following day.

I agree you can't reason mid tantrum but tbh this phase will probably stop as soon as it's started and she'll be on to something else.

If she won't put pajamas on,I'd leave her without and put them on her later when she's asleep.

Ds used to tantrum a LOT, I just sort of blocked it out and stopped trying to solve it in the end iyswim? His choice if he wanted to make a racket wink

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 16:10:23

We used sticker charts a lot. She could have one in her bedroom so there's the incentive to get out of the bath and into pajamas.

Iwantawhippet Sun 05-Jun-16 16:30:52

If DC are not co-operating I offer the choice of bath or going straight to bed. Or of brushing teeth or straight to bed etc. If they don't choose I say I will choose and it is straight to bed. Problem solved. Either child co-operates, or gets an early night.

amyboo Sun 05-Jun-16 19:47:05

Some things that have worked well for us when DS1 (now 6) and DS2 (3.5) hit this phase... Making it into a game. See who can get upstairs first - her or you, with some kind of small reward (We now just do something like "last one upstairs is a smelly carrot", rather than an actual reward). Then offering choices once upstairs - do you want to get dressed or do teeth first etc. If they still refuse to do as asked - taking a story away (they get 2) - one warning, then on second warning story goes. Sometimes the second story goes if the behaviour is really bad (fighting or tantrum for example). To get out of the bath - I bet you can't get out before I count to 3 (or whatever number they pick). I hide under the towel while counting - sometimes I add in half numbers etc to encourage them... On the nights where we have had to take away stories as punishment it's always resulted in screaming tantrums. Ww just keep putting them back in bed and it generally stops... Good luck!

Kariana Sun 05-Jun-16 20:30:23

Now some nights it's 40! Last night we lost it with her and just left her in her room - she screamed for 5-10 minutes then got herself into bed and fell asleep.

This surely should tell you that the best thing to do would be to leave her every night, otherwise you'll get into a cycle of attention seeking bedtime behaviour instead of sleeping. She obviously doesn't need you in the room in order to settle or fall asleep.

PlanBwastaken Sun 05-Jun-16 20:31:36

I went out and got a humongous tractor that's only to be played with in the bath to get around our bath refuser... and we cut the bath every second day. The rest is easier then, at least.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Sun 05-Jun-16 20:34:54

I missed the bit about staying in the room- I would stay for 5 mins then tell her you need to do some jobs downstairs but will be back in 5 mins to check on her, then 10 mins, and then 15.

cornishglos Mon 06-Jun-16 22:40:55

Bath in the morning.

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