When Should A Child Start Getting A Shower Alone?


When should you let your child start getting a shower alone?   When can they be trusted to wash well enough to do it alone?   It is hard to give up giving your kids a bath because you know that they are actually clean when you do it.   However, when they are in charge of washing themselves, you just hope that they are clean and that they have done a thorough job.  You are hoping that they wash their hair  (and rinse the shampoo out) and that they remember to wash their feet, too.  😉

You aren’t in control of washing every spot with soap and you just hope that your kids know that they need to wash behind those little ears!


Last week, on our Facebook page, someone asked the question about their nine-year-old not cleaning properly in the shower (we invite you to ask questions daily).

He was getting a shower every night, but not coming out clean (sometimes not even using soap).  They felt at a loss, because he was too old to be given a nightly bath by his parents, but obviously not mature enough to handle it on his own.

The advice that she received was great & we wanted to share it here today…

Tips for when you let your  child start getting a shower alone:  

  • Show your child how to take a shower.  Have a  parent lead by example.   Or talk them through it.  “First, you wash your hair.  Next, you move down your body to your face, neck, and shoulders…”

  • Supervise if you have to.  “When I was that age I went through the same thing [pretending to shower] so my parents said until I bathed right they’d have to wash me themselves like a baby. Let me tell you, it took one time and suddenly I bathed the right way.” ~Jenni Azzopardi

  • Remind him to apply deodorant after a shower (around age 9 is when this typically starts)

  • Slowly back off. “For the first five minutes of the shower, my 8-year-old grandson is supervised by one of his parents (or grandparents in their absence). No negotiation on this. They talk him through the steps of washing his body parts with soap and a washcloth. Liquid soap is easier in a pump container. They go over any parts he missed.
    No negotiation.    He still needs help shampooing and rinsing his hair, because he is only 8.”  – Denise G.
  • “Let him try deodorant –  Buy the vacation size so he can try a few and pick his favorite.  A good soak in the tub with bubbles once a week will help, too.  You can even add little Epsom salts to the water. He will get it.” ~ Denise Gelvin Geoghagan

  • Let him prove his capability. “If he wants to have independence, he needs to show that he is capable of it. Tell him people smell bad if they don’t wash properly and tell him about the health (and social) implications. If he doesn’t heed it, point out to him when he does smell and remind him why that is…  it’s up to you to help him understand – and keep helping him until he does understand!”
  • “Get in the shower and wash properly with the soap because if you come down these stairs and you still smell, I will come and wash you like I did when you were a baby”, would be my most gentle approach!”  ~Susan Morgan

  • Take him to the store to buy his own shampoo and body essentials. If it’s something he chooses, he is more likely to use it over what you buy.

  • Go to the library and check out a book or two that talks about the body {something specific to his age}. ~Sara Scott

  • Prepare the area for them.  “I get his loofa or washcloth all sudsy and bubbly for him and set it to the side for him. I also turn the water on and have his towel ready for him.” ~Amy Golden Bonfield
  • Get them a cool shower so you know they won’t “fake” showering because it’s too much fun!   Also, try bath crayons – let them draw on the shower walls!

  • Check his hair.  “I would smell him after his shower to make sure he used it. Had to send him back a couple times because his hair smelled like a wet dog instead of shampoo, but he got the hint and has been doing better.” ~Heather McKee Tucker

  • Check the amount of soap. “They eventually grow out of it. I had to keep reminding him every night and I would sometimes go in and soap up the rag first.  I have him turn around so I can see how much soap is on his body if it is  not going to make him self conscious.” Becki Livolski

  • Dump shampoo on his hair for him.  “When I found out that the hair wasn’t being washed I dumped a big glob of shampoo on the top of his head. The only way to get it off was to take a shower and wash it out. All the suds from the glob of shampoo did a fantastic job.” ~Lynne Forget

  • “I mark the soap bottle (he has not figured it out yet), so I can tell if he has used it or not.
    • I also smell the hair on his head when gets out of the bath/shower. If it does not smell like soap, he has to get back in the shower.
    • I check the body soap and if it has not been used, he must go back into the shower.  I tell him that I can tell by the smell.   It took three times of me doing this and he started washing.” ~Missy SrednesRemember

Try to remember that this phase is totally normal and most children go through this at some point.  Just keep reminding them why it is so important to clean.  If they are not mature enough to handle it, they are not ready to shower alone.

Try giving them a bath or supervising the shower.    You can find more great answers to questions just like this on our Facebook page  (where parents help parents every single day!)


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