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Dad and child having fun during bath time

Make it Fun

As a father, it has been amazing to watch my daughter, Keira, develop and reach different milestones - each unique in their own way. Keira is 2 ½ years old and soon to be a big sister in December of this year. Over the last six months, she has become more independent and curious, which has also led to moments of push back and limit testing.

It makes sense for toddlers to become strong-willed and throw a tantrum at this age. As a child, you want things to go your way, all the time. As adults, we experience that desire as well, but most of us have developed ways to talk ourselves into doing things that we may not want to do. Since most toddlers don’t have that ability yet, parents have two choices: make them do it or make it fun.

For our sanity, my wife and I have decided to go with fun. We’ve seen that forcing Keira to do things often leads to feelings of frustration and exhaustion. So, when we notice that she is starting to become resistant and say “no,” we think of a way to make it easier for her to say “yes.” We try to turn an undesirable chore into an inviting and playful situation.

For example, Keira’s bedtime routine involves taking a bath. Though she’s taken a bath every day of her life, this event always seems to come as a surprise to her, and it can either go really smoothly or turn into a dramatic production. We’ve learned that making bath time fun often leads to less stress for everyone involved. As it probably is with most situations, it’s not really the bath that she doesn’t enjoy, it’s the boredom.

To make it more exciting, we’ve done everything from throwing in Legos, buying bathtub markers, getting her a loofa, and even tossing in random kitchen utensils all while rocking out to Toddler Radio on Pandora. Recently, Keira has been including her dolls in the bath time routine. She brings them in the tub with her and scrubs them down. After the bath, she’ll dry them off with their own little towels and get them dressed and ready for bedtime. She loves it so much that some nights she’ll even ask to take a bath early!

Sure, there are times when we just need her to do as she’s told. Life can’t always be fun, right? In those moments, we help her work through her feelings, but whenever we can add a little bit of fun to the situation, we do.

What creative things do you do to encourage your children’s cooperation?

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew Jatau is a Licensed Professional Counselor and content creator currently working at Hopscotch, a leading pediatric behavioral health company.  He is the founder and CEO of Mylemarks, a website dedicated to providing engaging social-emotional resources for children and adolescents.  Andrew has worked in a number of settings providing mental health services to youth and families, including a day treatment center, a university counseling center, and most recently, a private practice in Virginia Beach.  He previously served as a Fatherhood Consultant with CHKD, helping to organize and facilitate fatherhood programs in the Hampton Roads area.  Andrew resides in Aurora, CO with his wife and two daughters.