Often haircuts are unpleasant and stressful for children and parents, particularly if the child experiences sensory vulnerabilities. Making haircuts a positive experience and improving tolerance levels can be challenging. Try out some of these ideas.

Why might your child not like having haircuts?

  • They have a sensory sensitivity to the noise or touch of clippers or scissors.
  • Sensitive around their head and neck region
  • Sensitive to the bright lights or strong smells in the salon
  • They may some difficulty with sitting still and fidget or move constantly.
  • They may experience anxiety or fear of getting hurt or not knowing what to expect.

Strategies to try out:

  • Have a chat with the hairdresser before your visit so the hairdresser is aware of the issues around having a haircut before attempting to cut your child’s hair.
  • Visit a home-­based hairdresser where it is less busy and noisy or alternatively a mobile hairdresser that comes to your home.
  • Put on a favourite DVD or read a story to distract the child from the haircut
  • Think about how the child might prefer to be seated – on the parents lap or feet planted securely on the floor.
  • Try scissors over clippers if the noise is a problem or try clippers if scissors are too “tickly”.
  • You occupational therapist could help write a social story around getting a haircut to help your child understand the process and prepare for the haircut. This could help your child understand what to expect and feel more comfortable.
  • If you child is calmed by deep touch or brushing, brushing their hair before hand may help with getting them in the right state for the task.
  • Allow your child to go with you to the hairdresser and watch you get your haircut so they learn what to expect.
  • Pretend play “hairdressing” is a good way to introduce what to expect.
  • Depending on the age of the child, allowing them to pick a hairstyle.
  • Avoid times of the day that your child may be hungry or tired and less tolerant of changes in routine.
  • Use a timer to give them a visual cue of how long the haircut will take.
  • Keep it as simple as possible at the hairdressing salon. Try washing hair at home and only cutting at the salon and drying naturally to start. Later you might like to add the extra steps in at the salon.

This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute advice to a child or carer’s particular circumstances. Tip sheets are not intended to replace professional therapy services.

If you have any questions or would like additional information contact Grace Children’s Therapy on 1300 760 779.