“Rhys wash hair” I state, holding the little toy watering can where he can see it. I use simple words to explain what I am about to do, so he wont be taken by surprise.
“Ready, steady, go” I announce, and being careful to not get any water in his eyes, I lift the watering can up to his head, and start to count.
With every canful of water I count down, making Rhys aware of how long the activity is going to take.
“Five” first canful of water weting the top of his head.
“Four” the water running down the back of his head.
“Three” making sure the left hand side is saturated.
“Two” then the right.
“One” pouring the last canful on the top.
“Well done, Rhys” I say excitedly, wiping his face clean from any stray droplets of water. I take some shampoo in my hand and lather his long hair into a Mohawk, more for my enjoyment than his!
I then begin the process again.
“Rhys, wash hair” I say again, the watering can held high. “Five, four, three, two, one.” Lifting the towel to his face, I give Rhys a few seconds to breathe and reset. There is still a lot of shampoo in his hair, so when he is ready, I start the cycle again.
Washing Rhys’ hair use to be traumatic. Without any means to communicate with him at the time, it resulted in force and a close call to water boarding 😮 (or so it seemed). I had no way of getting him clean without a swift quick-as-I-could dunk in the bath. We both grew very quickly to hate an experience which was meant to be fun, engaging and relaxing.
“All finished” I announce. Lifting Rhys out the bath and wrapping him up in a large fluffy towel. His big blue eyes and contagious smile peep out from under the folds, confirmation that his bath had been fun.
I leave Rhys to put on his pyjamas, which I have laid out in order on his floor. Picking up the hair brush I wait for him to be ready. The brush is a pink anti-tangle one with unicorns on it, and actually his sisters, but it works a treat.
Kneeling down on the soft carpet and looking up at the dressed pyjamas I state, in the same way I did ten minutes earlier “Rhys, brush hair”. With each stroke I count “five, four, three, two, one”
Once I am done I scrunch Rhys’ hair into its natural curl, and give him a huge cuddle, breathing in the fresh fragrance of the bath.
“Sleep well Buddy!, you did great!”
Click here to get a step by step on Countdowns.
I have used countdowns in so many ways to communicate time with Rhys and how long events are going to last. From hair washing, to brushing teeth and even during haircuts.
I use the Ready Steady Go technique to communicate the start of the activity, which is a great foundation for many other strategies. See more details here.
You can also add traffic lights to help with the length of the activity, and pictures or sequence cards to supplement the communication.
Be creative and combine strategies in ways that will be able to help you communicate and enjoy activities with your child.
Most importantly – sometimes things don’t always work first time, so assess what you are doing, keep trying and if needed, ask for help.
If you have missed any of the other strategies, find them all detailed here.