Santa doesn’t like stinky people (aka my ugly parenting moment)

Forget a lump of coal. We need a bar of soap!

I often hear people say they just “make” their kids do things. This perplexes me. I mean, it’s fairly easy with my fifteen month old, but nearly impossible with my three year old. She’s strong when she’s mad. I mean, super strong. And besides, physically forcing my child to do something against their will is a bit traumatic (unless it’s taking necessary medicine, then I just sit on her). Oh yeah, I also threw out my lower back, and hubby was gone, so physical force really wasn’t an option.

So, when my eldest daughter refused to take a bath, I was beyond frustrated. Bath refusal is something new. Here’s how our little exchange went:


Honey, it’s bath time. Please get in with your sister.

No, I don’t need a bath.

Yes, you do honey. You didn’t take one yesterday, so you really need one today.

But, I don’t want to take a bath.

I know, honey, it’s not always fun to do things we don’t want to. But you’ll feel better once you do.


Yes! You’re getting in this bath now. You need a bath.

But why? (Why? Why? Why? Why?!)

Because you’re sweaty, and you have lollipop in your hair, and you have old bandages dangling from your skinned up knees, you peed yourself outside, and your feet are muddy.

But we can just wipe me down with a washcloth.

No, you need to sit in the bath. I’m going to count to three…

But wash me in the sink.  You can even wash my hair in the sink.

(Parents, if you don’t have a plan for “after 3,” don’t start counting. I had no plan, and she knew it.)

Anna, you are really stinky. Do you want to be stinky?

Yes, I like being stinky. Stinky is nice.

(Oh Lord. I was going to have to pull out the big guns.)

You know, Santa is watching you right now. And he wants you to take a bath.

But why? (Why? Why? Why? Why?!)

Because he only brings toys to little girls who listen to their mommy.

I’m listening. I just don’t want to take a bath.

You HAVE to take a BATH!!!!

But why? (Why? Why? Why? Why?!)

Because Santa doesn’t like STINKY people!!!


Wow. I still can’t believe I said that. I immediately apologized. “Mommy shouldn’t have said that. Santa likes all people. Even stinky ones.” We compromised on her standing in the bath while I rinsed her down. This will go down in my parenting hall of shame. It can only go up from here.


17 thoughts on “Santa doesn’t like stinky people (aka my ugly parenting moment)

  1. Here’s something you might try. I was never that good at it, but other moms are and it does work. I’m sure the experts will agree. (ha) I know it’s recommended for kids with ODD. Give her choices. “You can take a bath or you can take a shower. Which do you choose?” (I know she’s not quite old enough for the shower by herself yet.) Have you tried the paints or crayons you can use in the tub? Windup tub toys? Barbie dolls in the bath with her? Hey, whatever works, right?

  2. I frequently trick children with art. “We can paint with the messy paints, but that means we will have to take baths tonight!”

  3. hysterical! All of my kids went thru an anti bath phase when they were 2-3 years old. in the summer we tricked my oldest into playing in his wading pool and then we added bubbles and tht was so fun we put bubbles in his hair (shampoo!)

  4. OMG, that’s hilarious. I think it was an ingenious reason.

    On a side note, I used to watch a toddler ( i know she isn’t quite a toddler anymore)who hated bathing but loved playing with sensory things. I squirted a few mini mountains of super cheap shaving cream into the tub that she could play with and smear and shape and everything. We had played with it on the Kitchen table before. In the tub, not only did she get *really* clean (what do they put in that stuff) but she had fun and didn’t argue with me.

    The entire argument went something like.
    ‘It’s time for a bath now.’
    ‘Yes’. (realizing i needed a new tactic)
    ‘No. I don’t want to.’
    ‘It could be fun. We could play with shaving cream.’
    *pauses to think* ‘mm…ok.’

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