#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: When Should Children Start Bathing Themselves?

Q: Thanks Dr Ketch for all your advice. Please, at what age should my hubby stop bathing my daughter? She is 6yrs old now. During the week, we leave home early and so we help each other because we don’t want to have a house help and most times he helps with bathing the children.

A: Hmmm! Very valid question! You guys are getting into interesting territories! Important territories, too 😀

This issue actually goes both ways and indeed, the question should also be asked about when mothers should stop bathing their sons.
Children need their privacy and sooner than later may feel the need to voice out their need for this. I’m sure the husband in this case does not fall into this category but stories of parents sexually abusing their children also exist. We need to also be mindful of this…sad but true.

By the time a child is about 2 to 3 years old, he/she should be encouraged to wash their genitals by themselves. So, the parent bathes the child, but allows the child to wash the genitals while instructing/watching/supervising. Remember that these areas generally need just the gentlest of washes and so a child’s soft touch is plenty. This re-enforces the message that these areas are private and that not even mummy or daddy should cross these boundaries. Indeed, if a child has an injury on the genitals and an ointment or cream needs to be put on it, the cream should be put on the child’s hand and he/she should apply it by him/herself.

By the time a child is 4 to 5 years, he’s generally able to bath himself and should be given the privacy to do so…by both parents.
You know how you used to feel free to undress in front of your children because you felt….well, you just felt it was okay? Well, stop feeling so! By the age of, about, 3 to 4, fathers should stop undressing in front of daughters and vice versa. Around the age of 7 to 8 years, it may also not be cool for mothers to undress in front of daughters and vice versa. Now these are guides and depending on how fast your children catch on to these issues, you may have to fast forward these timings.

Generally though, as soon as a child stops feeling comfortable having you around when they are undressing or in the bathroom, please respect that boundary. My son kicked me out of his room and fired me from bathroom duties just before he turned 5 years. I was absolutely amused but I gave him his space. And I absolutely knock on his door before I enter.

So, kindly give your husband his sack letter tonight and let your daughter understand that she’s just moved up one more rung in the responsibility ladder 😀

What’s your take on this?

Have a good evening, people 😀

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