Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Child Is Afraid To Get Their Hair Washed/Shampooed. What Do I Do?

I received this note from a concerned parent on another site I have,  in response to a post in this blog titled

My Child Is Afraid Of A Haircut. What Do I Do?

HC: You seem like a really kind person with kids. What do you do when a child is afraid of shampooing? What do you say and do to calm them? That's what scared me as a child at the salon and it wasn't any better at home unfortunately.

This is a tough one. First of all, remember this, I am only a hairdresser, not a therapist, so I can only give my opinion here. 

To begin with, I never wash hair in my salon, I just spray my comb or hand with water, because there is no way kids like to be laid back for a shampoo.

I have always felt that along with kindness and respect, distraction and patience are very important. Young children do not get greasy hair or become too smelly, so I would try not to do the shampoos too often. Baths without shampoos are fine...then eventually just wet your hand and wipe it off on their heads (you can say "Sorry I just have to dry my hand honey," and eventually you can put a bit of shampoo on your hand...it could take weeks of this until you do a full shampoo...be patient!.)

You also might have more luck if you do it all as a game. As an example, my own child would not clean up his room but was happy to do it if we pretended to be construction workers discussing how messy people were because they threw toys into the elevator shaft we were working on. I'd say "we'd better clean it fast!" and "How dare that guy throw a toy train in the elevator shaft...we'd better put it away!" It worked almost every time.

Maybe you can wash the walls around the bathtub...or use bathtub crayons to make a picture, and while you are washing or drawing quietly get your hand a little wet and wipe it off on their head...then a little shampoo, then a little more water...don't worry if you don't get all the shampoo out of their hair...it doesn't really matter.

Maybe you can say you have a special magic potion that only special kids can have before they draw the special spaceship with new glitter you prepared. After all, they cannot be a special astronaut without preparation...be goofy, be crazy! I even do it in the shop...! Sometimes I can see that a parent will think I am a bit crazy...but I get it done (most of the time, not always) without crying.

Put a tub toy in front of them and after you get into a really involved crazy story with it, start playing with their hair with a little shampoo on your hand and then water.  Keep the story going all through.

I think parents often get into discussing things too much...They spend too much time saying "we are going to wash your hair and it will be OK and be brave, etc." sometimes it works with some kids, but if you already know your child is scared...try something different!

After all, why should a kid be brave if it isn't going to hurt in the first place? Distract! You are not trying to teach them a lesson, that is something they will learn over time, you are trying to get their hair washed!

Anyway, this is the way I do things in the shop, I constantly act crazy...quieter with some kids, noisy with some...you have to be the judge...but getting mad never helps. And too much explaining rarely helps. Distraction is good!

Remember, they are really scared, and you are there to be a comfort!
Good luck!