Sensitivity to water can make fun activities such as swimming lessons and beach trips a nightmare, and bath time a daily struggle! Here are a few handy tips that can help you make water based activities smooth sailing!
Sensory sensitivity is how aware your child is to each of their senses: touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. A child may show low sensitivity if they do not display a reaction or high sensitivity if they have explosive or big reactions. An example of water sensitivity may be crying or flinching away from water and becoming upset or afraid of water based tasks.
Getting used to having water over your head and face can take some time, it may even be a little scary for some. Bathing daily is important for hygiene, but for those with water sensitivities it can be a challenging task! Start off small, using a flannel or cup to pour small dribbles of water over your child, one body area at a time. You might like to start with the hands and arms before moving on to more sensitive areas such as the face and head. Find out what your child is most comfortable with through some trial and error; they may prefer to stand at the sink and wash with a flannel before moving onto bathing in the shower or bath. Creating a rewards chart or similar may help to encourage your child to participate in bathing tasks. An example is one star for each body part washed (for example, hands, feet and face), with five stars equalling a reward! Kids learn from observing as well as doing, so providing positive role modelling will also encourage them to participate. Try and describe what you are doing and how it feels to help them understand, for example, “I’m going to clean my face with the flannel now as it’s a bit dirty. It feels nice and soft on my face, the water is warm. I feel nice and clean now!”.
Take your time and never force a child to submerge in water. Water play should be fun and your child will be able to relax and enjoy it more if they feel safe.
Games to encourage water play: