Does your child hate to have their hair cut? Is it a sensory processing issue? Fear and anxiety issue? Or maybe they just like longer hair and how it feels on their neck?
My son has had long hair for most of his life. It was kind of the Johnny Depp shoulder length messy bob cut (the celebrity has worn for about three decades – pic below). He’s been called “Princess” at Disneyland regardless of his very boyish clothing and shoes. At restaurants or out shopping he’s always mistaken for a she. Not always, but often.
At first, it was because we liked his long, red hair as a toddler, but then he refused to let us cut it. Even a trim would send him into hysterics and it seemed as though we were torturing him with scissors. Does your child hate haircuts?
Our OT helped with sensory integration tips and it has gotten to where we can cut a few inches off his hair at a time. These days there is only one hair stylist that he will allow to cut his hair. Her name is Niki and she has bright pink extensions and is covered from head to toe in tattoos. She’s the sweetest lady and gives “cool” long hair cuts to boys, which my son says is “skater/surfer hair.” Since we live in Southern California, this isn’t a really big deal in our area. For me, it’s his hair and it’s how he wants to express himself. How could I take that away from him? But I know some parents absolutely hate long hair on boys. I hear it all the time, but that doesn’t bother me.
Mom tips for the kiddo that hates haircuts!
- Find a hair stylist and salon that your child is comfortable with.
- Pick a good time (when your child is at their best and has slept and eaten).
- And go at a time when it’s not crazy busy and hectic.
- A reward system always works with us.
- Don’t make it a torturous event, or you’re setting you both up for disaster. Try to breath and make it as fun as possible, or at least something that is pleasant and not punishment.
Lucky girls can get away with the long hair and not having to have their hair cut. But what do you do if you want to cut your girl or boy’s hair and they refuse?
Some tips our OT Britt gave us were:
1. Cut their hair while they’re watching TV or are distracted.
2. Talk about it with them. Is it the scissors they’re scared of? Do they think they will be cut? Do they think it will hurt?
3. Take them to a children’s hair cutting place where they get a reward after their cut and they try to make it fun for them. BUT this won’t work if your child is extra sensitive and can’t tolerate a loud environment.
4. Ipods and Ipads. Yes, it’s the world we live in and if they can help get your child through a hair cut – awesome!
This morning I saw this book on amazon, “It’s Haircut Time” by Michelle Griffen, OT. Reading books and looking at pictures can be helpful for kids with sensory processing challenges and those on the autism spectrum. I know how beneficial books about going to the dentist and going to school were for me and my son. He always did better when he knew what was going to happen and what was expected of him. Another thing to try is watching a Youtube video of kids getting hair cuts. This can help prepare your child for those daunting scissors.
It’s Haircut Time! by Michele Griffen, OT
Don’t be quick to think, “It’s just a hair cut!” A child must be happy with their haircut because it is connected to their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves. The better they feel about themselves and their appearance, the more successful they will be with friendships and in other areas of their lives. It’s all connected!
Good luck and Happy Hair Cutting (or not!).