My 4 year old DD has started to refuse having her hair shampooed. I usually just make sure to rinse her hair when she takes a bath but don't always shampoo it. She has very curly hair so I usually put in leave in conditioner after the bath and comb it or on the days she is not taking a bath I just spray it wet and put in conditioner so I can comb it. This however has always been an issue (combing hair) and I usually have to let her watch tv while I do it. Lately she has not been wanting to take baths. When I get her to take a bath she will just stand in it and I can only get her to sit down for a short minute. However when it comes to making her head wet, she has very strongly refused. She doesn't want to take showers either. I even took a bath with her but she still wont really lye down or get her hair wet. I'm at a loss at this point because I can't even remember the last time I've shampooed her hair. All of this comes as a huge surprise because everybody can attest to the fact that she has always been very much the water girl. Even as a newborn water has always been quite therapeutic for her. I'm even considering cutting her short but I would still need to wash her head at some point. If you have any suggestions I would love to get ideas. Thank you very much. Oh, also I have tried talking to her about it to find out if somehting happened but she has been a late talker and she is not very communicative in general (personality wise) so no help there. Thanks.
4 yo refuses to get hair shampood
she is at the age that children develop irrational fears.
it is also the age of independence.
you know many of us never ever use shampoo
*shrug* i dont see a need to even wet her hair (esp. if it has cooled down where u are like it has here).
i would let it go.
she is perhaps in the middle of or starting a growth spurt. that's when suddenly "ME" becomes more important. that's when you need to decide what hill you want to die on.
i personally always choose safety or disrespect. anything else i let go.
i have found - according to my dd's personality - if i let it go and give dd more voice she ultimately does what i want her to do.
mama this is where you sit back and think. and decide on your new parenting philosophy. because parenting is changing and your child needs more independence.
Thank you so much for your relply meemee. The day I posted it I told her we didn't need to shampoo/wet it for right now and that we were going to figure out something that would work for both of us. Of course I had no idea what that was going to be. After reading your post I feel much more confident to let it go, just either dry comb it if she will let me, because they near dreadlocks at this point, and otherwise I will just cut if off and as you said not need to wet it. I usually pick my battles too and I usually go just like you for the ultimate safety issue and basics like brushing teeth and such. I thought washing her hair would be one of those but I can see now that I can let it go, if only for the time being and hope that like you said, after given her independent choice she will allow me to wash her hair or she will outgrow the fear. I try to be respectful to DD's needs and wishes as much as possible but sometimes it's hard to fight those voices of family members growing up that I know would be appalled if they knew about the parenting choices I make. Thanks again so much for bringing me back to the "right" place.
btw my dd has super sensitive scalp. for us combing was a big issue. she also has super fine looooong hair that turns into a bat's nest at the back. so really i could not not let hair brushing go (the more i let it go the worst it got).
so i ended up telling her she needs to either comb her hair or cut it. yup she's been combing her hair since she was 4.
and actually cutting her toe and fingernails since then too. i nicked her once by mistake and that's all it took. one mistake and she never let me touch them again.
Does she like to lay back in the bathtub? My little hates her hair to be washed as well so we fill the bathtub up just a little she lays back and I wash it with her head in the water... maybe 2 inches. She's more comfortable with that because the water goes no where near her faces or ears.
I also told my dd that combing hair is part of caring for long hair, and, that she could choose a short cut that doesn't need combing, or, a long cut, which needs to be combed. We looked at some pictures - she chose to keep her hair long & was much more agreeable about combing it.
I also skipped many a shampoo. Not worth the fight. On a few occasions, I found that letting dd pick out a new, yummy-smelling shampoo was wonderful motivation, too.
If it's not actually dirty (i.e. food, mud) I would let it go. Will she let you braid it so it doesn't get knotty? Another idea might be to go swimming. I've noticed that a lots kids will take a shower before and after swimming but not at home. Another suggestion is to get a favourite babysitter or 'auntie' to wet and comb her hair. A lot of little girls seem to put up with that far better than when mum does it, lol.
My dd (just turned 3) also hates getting her hair washed. She cries ''no mommy, don't'' while literally crying tears over having her hair washed. So I only get to wash her hair maybe once a week. My cousin had the same issue when she was 4 to maybe 8 and my aunt put a mirror in the bathtub and let her hold it and watch so that way she could see the soap wasn't getting in her eyes. I think I may try it, maybe that could work for your dd too. I also just wait for my dd to put her head back and gently rinse it out praising her while she doesn't cry.
My DS has always loved the water but for ages hated to have his hair washed. We only shampoo or condition ( his hair is long ) once every two weeks but I have had no problems since I have used a hair washing 'visor...' No soap in eyes! A regular golf type visor works quite well too. And I do reward a gripe-free wash, though I don't talk about it beforehand. We do something fun - trips to his favourite ( far away ) library or the coffee-shop for a hot chocolate, something like that. I know rewards don't often work, but it seems to have made him feel proud about being able to enjoy what made him near-hysteric in the past!
We also do 'crystal lakes' where I tell him to relax, that we're exploring, then we find the crystal lake and search for an epic waterfall, and he has to trust me by going under it, with the whole weight of his head in my hand ( leaning back in the tub, this took a while - but now he loves it! ) and I pour water over his head from a cup, saying "Oooohhh, aaaahhh, isn't this incredible, amaaaazzzing..." and general over-the-top-ness.
I'm also thinking a hand shower would be great, but my fella would soak our whole bathroom 'accidentally' or not!
My kiddo's went on a hair brushing strike for a few weeks here, they only let me near their hair after the 1-2x weekly bath and we do not use shampoo/conditioner at all on their hair. We really loved the book "The girl who never let mother brush her hair", we read it for about a week and had discussions about how different types/lengths of hair need different levels of upkeep(ie brushing in our case), and they both decided late last week that they would prefer short hair and finger combing/flattening it down after baths.
Here is the link for that book in case anyone is interested:
meemee, please tell me more about this growth spurt and this hill. Is this the personal hell I'm going through right now? I want to know more!
phenomom, I'm glad meemee hit the nail on the head for you, about letting go. My son hasn't let us wash his hair in two years. My mother yipes at him about it whenever she sees him, but it's a complete non-issue for us. He gets his hair cut every three months or so, and the hairstylist is awesome about really scrubbing as many times as she needs to, and really gets it clean. Ayup, he goes three months in between washes. Not even a rinse, unless something horrible happens, such as getting food/sand in there. It's just not worth the fight.
You all are amazing, thank you so much for the insight and the great advice. I actually asked her again yesterday, without trying to make a big deal out of it, after she started crying again I told she not to cry/worry because we are going to figure this out together and do something we can both be happy about. I asked her if she would be willing to have her hair washed at the hair salon and surprisingly she said yes. ( I honestly didn't have anything else in mind I was going to try and would have just let it go if she would have refused). So rightaway we went to supercuts, she was surprisingly calm except for when the lady put shampoo on it, I held her hand and told her she would be ok, the hairdresser worked very fast and DD was ok. Then she quickly put conditioner on, which is a must otherwise there is no way you can comb it. Again she as very curly hair, (papa is mixed race) and there where a few "chunks" of hair that resembled dreadlocks. Anyway, everything went fine. We cut of a good amount. I was so happy she was ok. For right now I think I'm going to be ok for a while, maybe just brush it when I need to and for next time I feel the need to wash it, I'm goint to either try going to a pool or maybe at a friend's house. But again at least for the washing part I feel good knowing I'm not alone with a child going without washing her hair for so long. I now feel I'm good for a while and now that her hair is so short brushing it shouldn't be such a problem anymore. Thank you all so much
DSD doesnt like it either, but i can always manage to get her hair shampooed (she gets food in it all the time) and conditioned when necessary: about every second week (i assume her mom does about the same as she is there half the time). i do remember her just screaming at the suggestion, but we worked on making her comfortable with it. now, shes so obsessed with being underwater, its not hard to get her hair wet, shampoo it, and tell her to dunk for a rinse. goggles are great for building water confidence. as soon as i bought them and she realized how magical it was under there, shes been addicted and is confident almost to a fault.
when i was little, i loved my long hair but hated water getting anywhere near my eyes (still do. i never get my face wet in the shower) so hairwashing was a big production. my mom was so sweet though. she would fill the kitchen sink, put a rolled towel beside it for a pillow, lay me on the counter and wash my hair in there, supporting my head with her hand and using something to scoop the water. i never minded that and remember it being extremely relaxing, so that may be something to try.
This is a little bit of a stretch but it may be worth having her head checked for ring worm. We had a girl at the daycare I worked at who wouldn't let anyone comb her hair or touch her head for years. She happened to get lice and they had to shave her head because they couldn't get a comb through and they discovered that she had ring worm covering half her scalp. It isn't a likely scenario but one to keep in mind if this continues.
Just a note about something that works for us in the combing department - (we made a compromise that washing can be skipped if combing happens)
someone named "hair dog" comes to visit every day, and he sneezes doggy sneezes on my son's head (sprays of conditioning anti-knot combing stuff) and then he talks nice doggy nonsense while the worst of the knots are gently combed and it becomes a sweet visit with a friend instead of a frustrating parent-child bunker hill
woof woof arooooo!
We shampoo hair once a week in the bath. It is a part of normal care that we parents are supposed to provide for our children. It is our job, regardless of how hard it is. My kids hate having hair washed, nails trimmed, bodies oiled when dry, ears cleaned out...you name it. I still do it though, because it is my job. I normally offer them two options, the hard way or the easy way. The easy way is them cooperating and putting their heads back while I shampoo and rinse. The hard way is me just doing it, which normally means they get water in their faces. They are both much better at it these days, because they know that it is not a choice.
My DD has long fine hair that tangles easy. I only wash her hair once a week, and I leave her hair in a braid, 90% of the time. Sometimes 2 braids, sometimes one. She sleeps with it, and wakes up with it, and if it still looks neat enough, I leave it in. Sometimes she has the same braid in for 2 days.
My almost 4 year old son has refused to let us wash his hair for months now. He has very curly hair too, and is absolutely against having it combed or cut. The one time we went for a haircut I held him screaming the whole time, so not worth it. So he now has very fluffy and longish curly hair. It's actually really cute. He does like to get his hair wet in the bath and if I am really quick I can manange to get some conditioner in it. He'll grow out of this stage, I hope :)
I'm in the minority, along with vermontgirl on this one. Once a week bath with hair washing as well as brushing hair every morning are musts here. Like teeth brushing: also not a choice.
She doesn't fight about it anymore (she used to pretty seriously). And I can't be sure, but knowing my daughter's nature, if I'd given her the impression that it was optional, we'd still be battling about it.
I actually think it's good for kids to have to deal with things that they don't like, but they have to do. It's great life practice, IMO. I also tell my daughter that looking somewhat groomed is important. She can dress herself it whatever she wants, but her clothes have to be clean :-)