Q&A: bathtime down the drain

Anonymous asked what was up with her 2-year-old suddenly screaming bloody murder in the tub and not wanting to take a bath. And how to deal with it, since no baths for the next 6 months don't seem to be an option.

Yeah, this sucks, but lots and lots of kids do it. It seems like some of it is that they're starting to figure out that they're separate from you and from their surroundings. An extreme form of that is the fear of being sucked down the drain like the water is.

Plus, they're drama queens. Being 2 is all about establishing boundaries definitely. Very definitely. Anything they can control (like, say, food) they will. Vociferously and loudly.

Layer onto that personality. If you have a kid who escalates easily (lots of kids who release tension by crying tend to escalate quickly in daily life), then they're going to get more worked up about everything, including figuring out that they might follow the water down the drain, or that not wanting to take a bath will get a reaction out of their parents.

Since it's complicated and depends on your kid's particular makeup, there's no one guaranteed solution to this problem, except for waiting it out. But while you're waiting it out, your kid still has to take a bath. Here are some things you can try, though, and see if any of them help:

1. Cut down frequency. People tend to overbathe their kids anyway, because it's usually part of a bedtime routine. But if there's too much screaming it's not an effective part of a wind-down routine any more anyway, so consider going down to a bath every 2-3 days just to reduce the number of times you have to deal with it.

2. Push through. Confession: I'm not that patient. So I just powered through it, and forced my kids to take the shortest bath we could manage that hit most of the dirty spots. I think sometimes it lasted 2 minutes or less, but relative cleanliness was achieved. Note: This is probably the plan most likely to get you, the bather, wet.

3. Reason with the child. Hahahahahaha. That was pretty much a joke, unless your child is seriously advanced for a 2-year-old.

4. Distract the child in the tub. Use whatever it takes--bath toys, a story, music, dancing, getting in with the child, etc. If you can keep your kid focused on something else, you might be able to get the bath done with a minimum of upset for anyone.

5. Empathize/defuse. If the resistance is about control and not actual fear, if you can empathize so much with the child that there's no more payoff or fun in resisting, then you might be able to defuse the emotion and short-circuit the screaming. I hear.

6. Pass it off to someone else to deal with. If you have a partner, perhaps you could trick ask them to take over baths for awhile.

That's what I can think of, but I know there are more ways to deal with it. What did you do? Did it work?