Hairstyles and haircuts for children with sensory problems and sensitivities

How often do you think about the weight of your hair? Probably never, but for children with sensory problems, the feeling, weight, and movement of their own hair can be extremely distracting. If his hair is cut just a little, he can see how different his head feels for days afterwards! A haircut can make it difficult to focus on tasks from school to food. In addition, a new hairstyle, in which the hair is moved in a new direction (e.g. cornrows, braids, an upswing or changing a part from the center to the side) and held in this new position, can cause cracks and cries out for painkillers and cool packs. The sensitive feeling on the scalp can last for days.

If you are a parent, discuss new hairstyles and haircuts with your child beforehand so that they can anticipate the change in sensations. Don't plan your haircut a day before it needs to be particularly focused and fearless, e.g. B. the night before school photos or before a big test or on the first day of football training. Give him a head massage before cutting (press a vibrator or vibrating toy against his head if he prefers). Let him hold the buzzing hair clippers and do not use them if the noise and vibration are too disturbing for him. Bring a towel and clip with you instead of using the scratchy vinyl cloak with Velcro, and bring an extra clean shirt to wear if you get hair yourself despite the cloak. If you can, plan a shower or bath after the cut so he can rinse off any hair that's still sticking to his skin.

Also pay attention to the smell and texture of care products. Let your child choose which ones are bearable and ask the hairdresser or barber if you can make an appointment if another customer doesn't use strong chemicals.

Avoid using the term "haircut" in younger children. The idea of ​​cutting can be stressful for them. Instead, say "We need to get your hair cut and styled" or something similar.

Be gentle with your child after a haircut. Offer praise and even a reward for going through what may have been an extremely uncomfortable experience for him. Allow him to wear a hat, maybe a tight, knitted one, if it helps him deal with the feeling of less hair on his head.

Of course, many children have difficulty with haircuts. But children with sensory problems or a full sensory processing disorder have an extremely difficult time. You may want to consider a simple, easy-care hairstyle for your child to limit the need for hair to be touched or manipulated frequently.

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