For children with a sensory processing disorder, the process of getting their hair done can be a terrifying experience. Whether it is a trip to the barber for a haircut, to the hair salon for new braids, or anything in between, you are probably wondering how to make the ordeal go as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips to help your child get through their next hair appointment without anxiety.
How to Prepare
One of the best things you can do is to help your child emotionally prepare for their appointment. Try to take the fear the unknown away by letting your child watch a haircut, or you can even roleplay one at home by using toys (which is also very effective for preparing your child to go to the dentist). It’s also important that you use a tone a wording that will make things sound less scary. If your child is getting a haircut, then it’s better to tell them, “Let’s go get a trim,” since the word cut might be too intimidating. If you can, you should look for a hairdresser who has experience with children with sensory issues or let your hairdresser or barber know ahead of time.
Things to Bring
When you take your child to get their new hairdo, it can still be scary and overwhelming even with the proper preparation. But there are some things that you can bring from home which will help your child stay calm. You can bring a small snack, like crackers or fruit snacks that your child can eat, which will help distract them. And, especially if your child is visiting the barber, you should give them a light zip-up jacket or top that will help protect them from any itchy hairs that might try to slip into under their clothes. If you have found that a weighted blanket works well with your child, then you should bring it for them to wear on their lap.
No matter how the hair appointment went, it’s important to praise your child for getting through it. Afterward, you can take them out for a treat or to one of their favorite places, like the park or library, so that next time they will be motivated by the reward at the end. But most importantly, be sure to establish a routine around visiting the barber or hairdresser. If your child knows that they can expect it once a month or once every few weeks, then even if they don’t like it, the entire process will go much more smoothly.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.