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Hair care – brushing, washing and cutting

Why it’s important

Hair care is important for overall hygiene. Looking after your hair plays a vital role in having healthy hair and preventing hair loss caused by excess damage.

How to help your child develop hair care skills

Brushing, washing and regular cutting all help to keep your hair healthy.

Strategies for introducing your child to hair brushing

Children like to feel in control so encourage your child to brush their own hair. Sit them in front of a mirror so they can see the brush which gives them a greater feeling of control.

You should also:

  • use brushes like Tangle Teezers which do not pull on the hair
  • try a long handled brush or comb for long hair, especially at the back
  • use thicker or wide handled brushes which are easier to grip
  • try using a detangling hair product
  • brush firmly and rhythmically
  • count to 10 or sing a song such as ‘if you’re happy and you know it brush your hair.’ Clap your hands to help with the distraction of the brushing
  • keep your child’s hair to a manageable length.

Strategies for introducing your child to hair washing

Chose a time when you and your child feel more relaxed and you’re not in a rush.

·Do not expect too much from your child. Create a positive experience which will allow you to slowly build up to washing hair on a regular basis. Often children are more tolerant of sensations when they can control them. Remember to encourage your child to become independent in washing their own hair.

You can also:

  • try a dry shampoo for in between hair washes
  • buy goggles or ear plugs for more comfort
  • hold a flannel or small towel over their eyes and face, or ask your child to hold it themselves
  • try a hair washing ‘hat’ to help keep water out of your child’s eyes/off the face
  • use a mirror so your child see what they’re doing – make sure they can reach all of their hair
  • get your child into a comfortable position, for example, kneeling over the bath, standing under a shower or standing over the sink.

If your child does not like the feeling of a shower head, try a jug or cup to rinse their hair.

You can also use a timer or sing a song to count down the steps.

If your child has sensitivities such as certain smells, use a fragrance free or no tears shampoo. For other children choosing a shampoo with a certain fragrance or character bottle can increase their motivation.

Strategies for introducing your child to hair cutting

Going to the hairdressers can feel daunting and overwhelming. You can help your child by:

  • visiting the hairdressers or barbers to familiarise your child with the environment and the person who will cut their hair
  • scheduling the appointment time when your child will feel more relaxed
  • taking in items or toys that can distract your child
  • asking the hairdresser/barber for a towel around your child’s shoulders instead of a cape
  • using a mobile hairdresser that can cut your child’s hair at home

What to do if your child has sensory difficulties

Some children find certain types of sensory input, for example touch, more distressing or distracting than others. Light touch on the skin can feel particularly uncomfortable.

Our heads are particularly sensitive to touch. This can make hair washing, brushing or cutting an uncomfortable and sometimes distressing experience. Talk to your child about what they find distressing about hair care.

Deep pressure can be calming and relaxing.

Strategies for deep pressure input

Prepare the head first by using a hand held massager on your child’s scalp or giving a firm pressure hand massage.

Push down firmly on their head, ensuring their head is in alignment with their body. Many children enjoy a constant pressure, others prefer you to push down and relax in pulses. Many children who really enjoy this will push back into your hand. Some children may find deep pressure such as firm stroking or squeezing very calming.

You can also:

  • brush your child’s hair whilst they sit in a bean bag, or in your lap for constant deep pressure
  • give your child a fidget toy for distraction
  • use a picture sequence or social story to prepare your child (see our download for details).