I’m writing this on my laptop in the bathroom, while watching my toddler “cook” in the bathtub with toy dishes. If you’re a mom, you are not wondering why I am multi-tasking, at the risk of getting my computer splashed. You are not thinking, “Write later when you can relax and focus.” You know that “later” never comes.
The topic is hair-washing or more specifically, rinsing. When I was in college, I loved my psychology courses, especially child psychology, so as a mother I’ve always enjoyed “experimenting” with my children. Studying how a child’s brain works would no doubt make me a better mother, right? I form theories and test them, which works even better if you have more than one child, i.e. a larger sample size.
As a young babysitter in college and mother-of-none, I noticed how kids really hate getting water poured over their heads at bath time. I believed all the fuss was caused by negative reinforcement, which is defined as “an increase in the future frequency of a behavior when the consequence is the removal of an aversive stimulus.” In this case: The child whines, the parent stops, the child whines more next time. I theorized that if you just got the kid used to rinsing by dumping copious amounts of water quickly and with no hesitation or apology, there would be much less of a fuss. Start at birth, be consistent, and the child will learn to accept the water over the head as inevitable and will not resist. As a parent I tested that theory. It doesn’t work.
I have tried having the child lie down in the tub, which worked with some of my children, but my current toddler will have none of that. I have tried telling her ahead of time, “I am now going to pour water slowly over your head.” It works just as well as the nurse saying to a child, “I am now going to give you a shot and you will feel a little pinch.” I even purchased a special device which claimed it would make a “waterproof seal” against the child’s forehead. Unless your child will hold perfectly still, save your money on that one.
Here is the conclusion to the experiment: Kids hate getting their hair rinsed and it doesn’t matter (very much) how you do it. In addition, I have found my hypothesis, that I would be a better mother for having studied child psychology, to be false. As in other areas of life, theories work well for those in ivory towers and not so well for those in the trenches — make that bathtubs — of real life.
Jenny is passionate about the important role of mothers in modern America. She believes the role of moms is often overshadowed by popular culture values… like the spotlight we place on celebrities and the celebrity lifestyle. Jenny wants moms everywhere to understand they are celebrities to their Creator.