View Full Version : Getting "stuck" in the shower

04-21-14, 11:49 AM
Hi guys, you were so helpful last time I had an issue to work though (with my son and video games) I wanted to see if you had suggestions for me again. I have been reading everything I can find about ADHD (or ADD) but I haven't been able to find a fix for this issue.

My daughter is 11, diagnosed with anxiety, mild depression and inattentive ADD. All is well managed with meds. However, when her meds wear off at night she zones out when she takes a shower. We have tried timers. She will turn them off and go back to zoning out. I also put up a list in the shower of things she needs to do - like wash face, wash hair, wash self, turn off water, etc. I have to remind her to get in the shower, to wash her hair and then remind her to get out. She will sit there in the shower for 30 mins or more if I don't tell her. Then she turns off the water and starts zoning out again. Obviously she is old enough to handle this on her own.

Any advice on how to help her?

04-21-14, 12:08 PM
Wow I can't manage to shower in anything less than 40 minutes. I know exactly what she is going through. Does she tend to zone out while doing other things at the same time of day? If not then it's probably just an issue with showering. For me, I know that getting out of the shower is seen as a task, and the immediate reward of the hot water always wins in the battle against turning it off and standing in the cold. This is similar to the way ADD inattentives (like myself) procrastinate so much due to to a lack of executive function, or that switch that says, "I'd like to stay in this warm water, but it's time for me to get out and get moving with my life."

These long showers have actually caused harm in my own hygiene. I'm a busy college student who can't spare 40 minutes to waste in the shower. Showering in the morning is out of the question for me because I cannot manage to wake up any earlier than I need to. I'd rather go without a shower than get out of bed earlier.

I know I haven't offered any help, simply because I'm going through the same issue. I've just tried to understand why I do it, and look for ways to deal with it.

04-21-14, 12:23 PM
Has she said why she's doing it? Could it perhaps be as innocuous as her enjoying the shower and the steam room atmosphere after a shower?

04-21-14, 12:25 PM
God I do this too. It's really comforting to know other people are the same because I'm kind of embarrassed by it. It seems so silly but it is a problem! It helps if she sees the problem also and wants help to take shorter showers. The immediate hot water reward of staying in longer is really hard to fight though. But there are a lot of reasons not to take long showers - it saves energy (that's a big one for me right now but I'm also paying for my own utilities) ... (actually maybe that's something you can incorporate, showing her how much hot water costs and how much energy it uses) and also it's kind of a waste of time. Sometimes I like a relaxing hot shower because I have anxiety but...not everyday.

Nowadays I have a new experience that I get bored in the shower, but also don't want to leave the heat, so I get anxious about taking them because it's this weird suspension of bored/anxiety because I could be doing other things, and the nice heat. So then I take them when I really CAN'T spend a lot of time in there (in the mornings). I think that's my only solution.

The thing with improving bad habits I have is that if I feel like I'm being nagged or pushed I will absolutely reject whoever is trying to help. But if I ask for help (like my boyfriend, please knock on the door after I've been in there for 5 minutes or something) that's different (still doesn't always work but usually ends up in less arguing.) Maybe you guys can come up with a plan together to ween her off the long showers, with her input also, and then you're helping her to stick with the plan she helped create.

04-21-14, 12:25 PM
Hahaha actually a really effective way to get me out of the water quicker...smaller hot water heater!!!! hahaha

04-21-14, 03:19 PM
I think there was a shower thread on here quite a while ago and it's a common behaviour.

My 11 y/o DD probably showers for close to 30 min - I haven't really timed it to be honest, but she is always reluctant to start her shower and then feels great and stays.

I think Willow probably has the best suggestion! lol.

I just seems to be one of those things. My DD showers every other morning and we build in enough time from when she starts that she's not late getting ready. I will say for all the fighting going in, she is so happy after her shower - a very noticeable difference.

Ms. Mango
04-21-14, 04:54 PM
My DS loves the shower and our water bill is crazy this past quarter as a result. What I've started doing is letting him take a long shower every once and awhile, but other times telling him he's limited to 5 minutes.

In reality, it'll be more like ten minutes. At the 3 minute mark I'll stick my head in the bathroom to ask if he's washed his hair. Usually he hasn't, but he'll start doing it once prompted. Then after another couple of minutes I'll give him a two minute warning and ask if he's washed the rest of himself. Usually not, but he'll start doing that. Then in a couple of minutes I'll tell him to wrap it up, water's being shut off in a minute. At that point he will finish up on his own and shut the water off.

The timer thing didn't really work for us--he wasn't washing himself at all before the timer went off. Then it was another 10+ minutes.

When I don't put a limit on the time he can shower he now puts a stopper in the drain after he's washed and lets the tub fill a bit. Then he sits there and soaks till he's ready to get out (or the water's cold ;)). I don't think it's great for his skin to sit there and steep in warm water, but it's a compromise we can live with. He doesn't do it too often any more.

I will say he's getting better about it, sometimes he doesn't need as much prompting as I noted above, but that water bill is still a killer.

04-21-14, 06:11 PM
Thank you all for your replies! It is comforting to know how common this is. She feels bad that she zones out so much in the shower but I never thought of it as being almost "therapy" for her anxiety. It sounds like I just need to keep knocking on the door and reminding her it's almost time to get out, etc.

You guys are awesome.

04-21-14, 06:27 PM
For a medium-tech solution, or at least a "less parental nagging" option...

They sell "shower timers" -- either digital or hourglass-like -- but these are usually 5-minute timers, which really may be too short, especially if she has long hair to wash.

There are also shower clocks / alarms / radios which might help her keep track of time -- put 15 minutes on the clock and see if she can beat that. (If racing the clock makes her more anxious, scrap that idea, but a timer or clock could still help as a reminder of the passage of time.)

I am not very efficient in the shower myself; may have to give this a try!

04-21-14, 06:27 PM
You know, this makes me think...there was a summer in college I ended up needing a place to live for a about a month while taking classes but I was really broke, I ended up staying for free with this woman who wanted a companion...severe lyme disease...anyways she lived off the grid, it was an experience.

She always took baths so for a hot shower I had to do some fanagling. She had a downstairs shower so we set up this gravity what I had to do was draw water in buckets from the well, put it in a large metal basin, heat up the water on the stove, bring it over to my gravity shower/siphon thing and then I could have a shower lol. Anyways the whole thing was very enlightening as to how much water gets you a 5 minute shower!!!! A lot of water for not very long (depending on the amount of pressure)

I think that sort of helped snap me out of my long shower thing and get me in the habit of shorter showers

04-21-14, 06:51 PM
Showers are totally therapy.

You could switch her to baths, they aren't as awesome, I don't stay as long in a bath.

Generally what I do is all my cleaning stuff right as soon as I get in the shower, then I can chill in the shower. That way if I realize that I've been in there for too long, I can just hop right out.

You could also just flush the toilet once she's been in there too long lol

04-21-14, 07:18 PM
Could she shower when she has meds in her system?

My son uses a timer, but sets it twice -- first 5 minutes are just to enjoy the hot water, second 5 minutes are to do all his washing.

At 11, she does need to be involved with the solution, rather than you just unilaterally deciding to use lists, timers, etc.

I've been listening to a lot of collaborative problem solving examples over at the LivesInTheBalance website. He might suggest splitting this into two separate problems -- remembering to wash everything, and actually getting out at an agreed upon time -- and sitting down at a calm time to discuss each. The conversation might go something like this:

Mom: I've noticed that your showers last a long time. What's up?

Daughter: <gives reasons="" why="" it's="" hard="" to="" get="" out.="">(gives reasons)
Mom: (asks questions to really understand what make it hard to get out)<asks questions="" to="" get="" details="" on="" what="" makes="" it="" hard="">

Mom: The thing is, the water and gas bills are too high, and when your shower runs long you don't get enough sleep. (Or other reasons)

Mom: Do you think there's a way for you to (daughter's concern here)<her concern=""> and remember to get out in X minutes?
Daughter: I don't know.
Mom: Take some time, think about it.
Daughter: (proposes something)
Mom: We could try that. If it doesn't work, let's talk again and come up with more ideas.


04-28-14, 09:40 PM
It's sensory! My 14 year old son has Aspergers and LOVES the shower as well as the ocean (pool is ok but..)and after a few years I started to realize it was a sensory thing with the pressure of the water. He also has explained it this way.