When Should Kids Start Taking a Shower? (Step by Step Instructions)

When kids start taking a shower, it’s a big step! This guide will help you know if your child is ready to start taking a shower and what steps to take to make the transition successful.

Kids really do grow quickly! Just when you think you’ve finally got bathtime down, you blink. And suddenly, it’s time to talk your little one into taking showers. Where did all the time go?

As we become parents, we look forward to all the exciting milestones we’ll get to celebrate with our child. However, what they don’t tell you is how difficult some can be – especially when it comes to basic personal hygiene.

With every change in your child’s routine comes a transition period that can involve a lot of trial and error (and in this case, a lot of unrinsed shampoo in your child’s hair!).

But at what age is a child ready to leave the bubble bath behind and take on the big kid shower? And how can we make it as smooth and painless of a transition as possible? The following advice can help.

At what age are children ready to take a shower?

There’s no magic number for when children should begin showering, as every child is different. But generally, sometime around the ages of six to seven are good times to start. At this point, kids are in early elementary school and should have more interest in doing tasks independently.

Another way to tell if your child is ready to start showering is if they can dress and undress themselves without assistance. But again, everyone is different. Trust your instincts and wait until you feel your little one’s ready.

The best way to transition a child from a bath to a shower

Showering can be an exciting time for your child as it’s a new “big-kid” experience. However, you may find that they’ll have the opposite reaction.

Whether your child is worried about water or soap getting in their eyes, has sensory issues with water in general, or simply doesn’t like change, here are some helpful tips to get them showering like a pro in no time:

Childproof your shower

First and foremost, your shower needs to be a safe space for your child. Approach child-proofing your shower just as you would child-proof your home. Kids are curious little humans and often get tempted to play with items interesting and foreign to them.

Eliminate any potential hazards like razors and hair treatments before it’s time for them to hop in and scrub up. All it takes is seeing dad use a razor for them to get the urge to try it on themselves. You’ll also want to add a non-slip mat if you don’t have one already to prevent them from slipping.

Start with baby steps

Not every kid will jump for joy at the idea of upgrading from a bath routine to a shower routine, so it’s important to ease into the transition with love, compassion, and support until they feel comfortable.

As adults, we forget that showering isn’t as easy as just hopping in and doing it. Your child won’t know what exactly to do at first, which is why they need you to guide them through the process one step at a time.

Start by having shorter showers that involve fun activities while you supervise. You can have them play with bath crayons or their favorite bath toys, or wear swimming goggles so they can enjoy the shower without the water irritating their eyes. 

If there’s any point where your child gets upset, cut the shower short and try again another day. Forcing it on them will only make the transition worse.

Teach shower safety & hygiene

Educating your child on shower safety and hygiene is a great way to set them up for success. Not only that, it’ll prevent them from getting hurt and developing poor hygiene habits or negative feelings toward showering. Just be sure not to overwhelm them with too much information at once.

For safety, explain how showers are slippery and that your child must be careful not to move around too much. You can also show them how to set the temperature of the water, how to dry themselves before stepping out, and how to prevent shampoo from getting in their eyes. Don’t forget to show them how to clean it out if it does!

For hygiene, teach your child how to clean themselves thoroughly. Show them how to clean each body part and rinse off properly – especially their hair. It may seem self-explanatory, but bathing is a lot less work than showering, so it’s important that they get themselves nice and clean!

Stay close by

Even if your child transitions effortlessly into shower time, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Always leave the bathroom door ajar and keep a close distance as you never know when they may need you.

Whether your child needs help getting soap out of their eyes, adjusting the water temperature so it’s not hurting them, or is just feeling scared, being readily available will help them feel safe and comfortable.

If your child isn’t ready to be alone while showering, that’s okay! You can guide them through the process by either showering with them, watching them shower, or just sitting in the bathroom with the shower curtain drawn.

How to teach a child to shower themselves

Teaching your child how to wash their own bodies will set them up with good hygiene habits for life. Therefore, it’s crucial to show them how to properly clean each part of their body so that they come out squeaky clean after every shower.

Visuals are your best friend when teaching young children to do anything. I find placing a laminated card with step-by-step instructions (with words and pictures!) to be extremely helpful. A simple list of shower instructions can look something like this:

  1. Wet hair
  2. Add shampoo and scrub into hair
  3. Wash out shampoo
  4. Grab soap
  5. Wash neck, then torso, arms, legs, feet, and private parts
  6. Rise off soap
  7. Grab towel and dry off inside the shower

When your child has a clearly defined routine that shows what is expected of them, showering independently will become easier over time.

Help guide your young child through everyday tasks with these Simple Directions for Young Children Cards. Each card serves as a reminder of how to carry out a task and allows children to eventually take on tasks independently. Click here to learn more.

simple directions on how to do daily tasks for young children

What should I do if my child doesn’t come out clean?

There could be many reasons why your child is leaving the shower dirty. Before taking it as an act of rebellion, try considering there may be other factors at play.

If it’s a matter of your child’s hair being greasy, they could be using too much conditioner, not rinsing it out properly, or could just naturally have oilier hair. Try reviewing with them how much product they should be using. If it’s still greasy, using products made for oilier hair could help.

There’s also a chance something’s distracting your child from their cleaning routine, whether it’s water getting in their eyes or not liking the scent of their shampoo. Simply asking them what they need can fix this issue. If it’s the water, get a handheld shower head so they can keep the water out of their face. If they don’t like the products they’re using, have your child pick out their own shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the scents they like.

When all else fails, simply getting them involved is your best bet!

What should I do if my child refuses to take a shower?

If you’ve done all of the above and still have no luck, don’t stress. It’s normal for children to resist practicing proper hygiene… as they are simply too young to care. It may be a shocker, but most young kids would rather spend their time playing than washing themselves!

Here are some useful strategies you can try to get your child in the shower without a fuss:

Avoid a power struggle

Using a “my way or the highway” mindset for showering will only get you into an argument and make matters worse. Instead, listen to your child and explore the options together.

Ask them why they don’t want to shower

Before assuming anything, give your child a chance to express themselves and think about why they don’t want to shower. 

Maybe they’d prefer to shower in the morning than the evening. Maybe they don’t like the brand of soap they’re using. Or, maybe a robe or fuzzy towel would help keep them warm when they get out. There could be many reasons why they avoid the task. You just have to figure it out together.

Collaborate on a solution

Compromise is key.If creating a more lenient schedule would benefit your child, give it a try! Show them that you value their input and want to explore options together.

Talk about the importance of good hygiene

Rather than focusing a lot on the importance of showering, take the opportunity to talk about hygiene in general. Keep the conversation light. Allow your child to ask questions and talk freely about anything from body odor to how to prevent greasy hair.

How often should kids and teenagers take a shower?

Younger kids and older kids have different hygiene standards as they are in very different stages of life. 

For prepubescent children, showering should focus on establishing a routine and washing off surface dirt. At this age, they do not produce nearly as much oil and sweat as teens, so showering every three to four days makes sense – unless they get really dirty during certain activities.

Teenagers, on the other hand, will need more shower time. As teens’ bodies change and go through puberty, they’ll develop stinky pits, body hair, and acne. Therefore, it’s best that they shower once a day and also wash their face twice a day to smell fresh and keep clear skin.

The good news is that the more your child matures, the more they’ll want to be clean and smell nice. So even if you can’t convince your teen to shower, chances are their peers (or a new crush) will be the motivating factor.

Patience is a virtue

Getting your child adjusted to a new shower routine can be tough, but the right mindset can turn what may feel like a chore into an exciting and special time to share with your little one. 

When you practice patience and compassion, you’ll find that with time, your child will feel more and more confident showering – and even start enjoying the process. Good luck!

See Related:

9 Ways to Encourage Self-Sufficiency in Young Kids

How to Establish a Calm Morning Routine That Actually Works

5 Tips to Get Your Kids to Clean Their Messy Room

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About Kerry Flatley

Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.