Ouch! Sensory Integration and Haircuts
Children with sensory problems often hate haircuts. You may get advice
to let your child take a favorite toy to the haircutter and bribe him
with a lollipop. Thats a good start, but often not enough. For a
child with sensory issues, who may have trouble with the height of the
chair, the sight or sound of the scissors or buzzcut razor, or the smell
of the shampoo or chemicals in the hair salon, consider these strategies:
Use the word trim instead of cut to make the process seem less
Stop by the hair salon for a visit to watch someone else get their
hair cut. If its the buzzer sound that scares your child, the barber
can play the buzzer for your child on a day hes not
having his hair cut. At home, you can hold a
vibrating toothbrush or vibrating pen near your childs ears so the
sound becomes familiar and non-threatening.
Use a towel and clip rather than a plastic cape. The plastic or
Velcro fastener can be even more irritating to a child than stray hair
on the neck.
Bring an extra shirt so your child can change immediately afterward.
Go to a childs hair salon thats more kid friendly and
doesnt stink of hair dye or perm chemicals.
Him or her listen to favorite music during a haircut.
Have your child sit on your lap or in a low chair rather than a
high chair seen in most barbershops.
Massage your childs scalp and neck before the hair trim.
Use a weighted lap pad for calming, and whatever toy your child
Bribery can help. Plan a special activity for after the haircut.
Consider cutting your childs hair at home.
Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, co-author of Raising A Sensory
Smart Child, provided this original article. For more information on sensory
integration issues, practical solutions, finding professional help, advocating
with schools, and more, pick up a copy of her book, Raising
A Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child
with Sensory Integration Issues.
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