7 Fun Bathtime Activities That Also Build Life Skills

Kids and bathtime. Depending on the day, it can be a joy or a chore to protect your kid from being that kid (the one with the dirty fingernails, paint on his leg from the day before, a ripe smell only a mom can tolerate without a face mask). If you're having one of those days where your kid fights bathtime on a bedtime level, change it up. 

Bathtime is often overlooked. We've all just thrown some toys in the tub, taken a seat on the toilet, and let the kid play while we check our smartphones. Ah, mommy time to decompress with a "like" fest. That's okay ... but you will miss out on some real bathtime bonding that will enrich your child's life. Facebook seems less important when it's spun that way, huh? 

Here are 7 tips for bathtime to build skills that last a lifetime:


1. Empathy. "To teach empathy, encourage your child to use a bathtime finger paint or soap to draw a picture and tell a story," said Fallyn Smith, an elementary school counselor in Burlingame, California, and Director of Social Success (which provides private social skills lessons for children). "Once finished, ask your child how he would feel if that happened to him. It builds empathy when a child is asked to put himself in someone else's shoes, whether it's a character or real person."

2. Gratitude. Open up. Ask your child to take a break from the bubbles and tell you what the best part of his day was and what wasn't so great. He can't become distracted and toddle away as easily as if he were on dry land. Ask him to tell you a few things he's grateful for, and you can do the same. This teaches him how to express himself, reinforces your bond, and builds trust.

3. Sensory. For sensory development, offer different types of sponges, loofas, washcloths, and brushes to help your child play with in the tub. Ask your child to describe how it feels on his skin (soft, rough, fuzzy).

4. Fine Motor. "Water play is really good for fine motor skills," said Smith. "This could include pouring water from one cup into another, pointing, and squeezing sponges and/or shampoo bottles." You can use the opportunity to talk about the different shapes and sizes of the cups and bottles.

5. Cognitive. Place a bag of household objects (a spoon, clothespin, comb) in a bowl and ask your child to guess which ones float.

6. Musical Intelligence. Show your child how things sound different under water. Take a wooden spoon, metal bowl, and various toys in the bath and start playing them. Challenge your kid to create his own beat or song. Alternatively, turn bathtime into song time. Save special songs and routines for the tub so your kid looks forward to soaping up.

7. Classification. Attach bins to the side of the tub and ask your child to sort toys by color and/or category. (All animals in one; blue cars in the other.)

Bathtime is the perfect opportunity give your child some structure for learning and creativity. Best of all, it turns a 10- to 20-minute chore into a time to bond. .. so long as you keep your Facebook urge in check.

How do you make the most of bathtime?

Image via © Hero Images/Corbis

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