are you bathed out yet?

I cannot help myself from posting this. I just have to share the biggest news re bathtime in over a month. I know you are sick of hearing about the hair and the tears and the dual showers and tub crayons. Lord knows I am sick of talking about it.

I took my psychology and social work education & put it to good use treating my daughter like my middler year lab rat "Chalupa." I spent a quarter (yes, quarters, we NUites had 4 quarters over 12 months, not 2 semesters over 9 months like the rest of you) taking care of a lab rat and teaching him (by denying him food) various behaviors. A month into this nonsense I decided that the answer to our dilemma was operant conditioning and desensitization. Of course, it was going to be difficult to do this while still feeding her, but I wasn't willing to starve her. Starving Chalupa was a lifetime's worth of starving. I utilized both positive (praise) and negative reinforcement (the absence of the dreaded water and the forced tubs) to change my daughter's behavior by introducing familiar tub things back into tubtime slowly, painfully slowly.

Step one: Playing in empty tub fully clothed with Mommy. She refused to leave my lap, played hesitantly. Tears frequent, praise abundant, water absolutely non-existant.
Step two: Playing in empty tub in just diaper, with Mommy in bathing suit. Clingy, but was willing to stand solo to use crayons, blow bubbles. Tears less frequent, praise abundant, mention of water brings immediate begging to "take me out."
Step three: Playing in empty tub naked, Mommy in bathing suit on outside of tub, with a small basin of water. She immediately freaked at the water's presence, but when Mommy reintroduced the watering can she began filling and dumping. Then at our promting emptied it on her feet, then her knees. She took it upon herself to pour it over her head. She didn't even squirm about the ear plugs. "Do you want to get out?" "Stay in" She washed her baby, she poured water all over herself, she splashed with wreckless abandon.

Sure, she did not sit half submerged in water, but BY GOD, our Caroline is clean and this was all accomplished without a single tear, a single whimper, an exasperated sigh from a parent.

We are obviously light years from a good ol' fashioned bath, but we are getting there, with praise, with baby steps, and with patience.

Let's say it again for emphasis. Steve and I, we make a pretty good team.


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