So how do you turn ‘kids sharing the bathtub’ into an opportunity to teach your child something important.
Teachable moments should be your Number 1 strategy for sex education!
Learn more about what a teachable moment is.
[00:00:00] How do you turn your kids having a bath together into a teachable moment? Let’s find out.[Music].
[00:00:15] Hi, I’m Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue. Sex Ed Rescue is a channel where I help you get more comfortable with talking to your kids about sex. Once a week on this channel, I do a teachable moment. There’s a link in the description telling you what a teachable moment is, but it’s basically an everyday opportunity to talk to your kids about something.
This week, we’re going to talk about kids sharing a bathtub together. Now, I’ve got two children; a boy and a girl, and they don’t share the bathtub any more. My daughter is starting to go through puberty so she’s becoming uncomfortable with her nine-year-old younger brother seeing her body. But, up until a year ago they were sharing the bathtub together. So, there’s lots of good teachable moments.
[00:02:08] For example, when my son was a baby, my daughter would help wash him and we had some great conversations about how he was too young to wash his penis. Because of that, we needed to look after his body for him. If you find that your family is struggling with that, there are books that talk about how to deal with washing your baby’s genitals. A lot of parents find it hard, and a lot of parents don’t mind. Everyone is different. That was a good example for when he was younger, but even as my son got older and began sitting up and talking, my kids would still share a bath. So, then it was about ensuring that they did play together but that there wasn’t too much exploration going on.
Now, there is a fine line between playing around and being too invasive. My advice to you about how far to let your kids explore each other is to base it off your own comfort level. If you find one child getting too invasive, what you can say is, “Hang on, you know that’s your sibling’s private parts. Even though they’re too little and think this is fun, we need to start teaching them that it’s not okay for anyone to come up and play with their genitals.” So, we can start introducing those boundaries at a young age. It’s going to take ages to do this, and it won’t hurt to guide them.
[00:02:40] Now, I’ve seen a lot of adults in sex therapy who are worried that seeing genitals will scar their child. But that can only come from harsh messages. The approach we should take is to guide our children. If we just give them gentle reminders and reinforce good values, your child won’t grow up with issues later in life. It can take a while, but you need to keep reminding them and eventually, your child will stop what they’re doing, and might even start doing something else that you must remind them to stop. It’s about those slow, gentle, constant, and repetitive reminders.
I’m very guilty of this, but it’s a bad idea to leave your children alone in the bath together for too long because they can get up to loads of bad stuff. I get a lot of phone calls and messages from parents who catch their kids doing stuff that worries them.
[00:03:48] What I often suggest to parents is to hang around and keep an ear out so if your children suddenly become quiet to just walk back in and ask what is going on. If they are doing something that shocks you, stop them gently and distract them. Say, ‘Okay, time to hop out of the bath now,’ and then talk to them separately afterwards. Don’t freak out, which is easier said than done, but it’s better to just stop whatever is happening, separate them and deal with it when you’ve calmed down. But bath time is just a wonderful opportunity to talk with your kids.
You might also talk about how bodies are different. So, sometimes when I have a bath my daughter might join me. It’s usually because I’ve got some nice food, or a product from Lush that she wants to try out. It doesn’t really matter, but she’ll crawl in and go, ‘Oh mum look at your big fat tummy! And look your legs are getting hairy, why don’t you shave them?’ And we’ll have a talk about it.
I can say, ‘Hey, I’m a middle-aged woman who’s had a couple of kids. I don’t go to the gym, and I like eating homemade biscuits. What you see is what you get, and this is what bodies are like.’ We talk about how bodies change, age and how you can change some things and why you might want to. Is it because of what people think, or is it what you think? Is it because of your health? There are many different reasons.
[00:05:25] Bathtubs are just that great opportunity to talk about this idea of public and private. There are so many decisions and conversations you need to have with your children. About how you might be happy with your kids bathing together, but what if they’ve got a friend who’s coming over? Are you happy to have a boy and a girl sharing a bath together? You might be when they’re three, four, or five-years-old. If you know their parents well, maybe even seven, eight, ten, or twelve-years-old. Where do you draw a line? Is it okay for your daughter to hop in the bathtub with her father?
So, you can have conversations about the idea of public, body diversity, what is and isn’t appropriate, and the differences between boys and girls. If you have a boy, he might ask, ‘Mummy, where’s your penis?’ Or, if you have a daughter she might ask, ‘Daddy where’s your vulva,’ or, ‘vagina?’ And those sorts of questions.
[00:06:30] Talking about puberty is also a good idea. You can start having conversations about how their body is going to start changing as they get older or reminding them that they need to bath every day because puberty makes their hair oily and them smelly. For example, when my daughter was younger, she would be lucky to have a shower every two or three weeks. But now she’s going through puberty, she must shower every day because her hair is getting oily and she’s getting smelly. So, bring in those conversations now because it took two years for my daughter to start doing it every day. It might just be my kids, but when I talk to other parents, they say their kids are also slow to bringing on change.
[00:07:22] Hopefully that gives you some ideas about how you can turn kids sharing the bathtub into a teachable moment.
Anyway, I hope that helped. Cheers.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.