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Hairwashing phobia - any advice?

(19 Posts)
tetleytea Sun 09-Aug-09 11:13:56

I think DD now fits into the category of phobia about having her hair washed.

For over a year we have had to grab her kicking and (literally)screaming to do it, and it's got to the point where it is so traumatic no one can handle doing it. We have tried absolutely everything - flannel over the face and those ring things you fit over the forehead (won't let us even get near her with them), taking her to the hairdresser (worked only once)talking about it, watering cans with vey small spouts - everything, but it's now a phobia, and i just can't face traumatising her (or us)any more. Every attempt fails. Her cradle cap is coming back.

My sister says to just leave it for the moment, that the psychological damage to her outweighs any benefit - I'm embarrassed to admit how long it is since the last wash but it's over 2 months...

has anyone been through this? i know it's just a phase but it's been over a year now. Also, nothing specific set it off.

cornsillk Sun 09-Aug-09 11:15:39

How old is she?

tetleytea Sun 09-Aug-09 11:15:45

Forgot to say, dd is about to turn 3, and her hair is v short!

cookielove Sun 09-Aug-09 11:17:53

i've heard that if you don't wash hair for ages it will start self cleaning but i think this can take up to a year to start. You could try this spray in shampoo

cookielove Sun 09-Aug-09 11:19:08

there are lots of different brands, you don't have to wash the hair just spray in and brush out i believe

cornsillk Sun 09-Aug-09 11:21:08

My ds has this issue also but is older. I agree with your sister about not forcing her. Will she go swimming and stand under the shower? Can you rub something into her scalp while she sleeps? I know many tricks but they will probably sound completely mad to you - we've had thsi for a loooong time!

cornsillk Sun 09-Aug-09 11:21:38

Cookie it doesn't self - clean. Believe me I know.

tetleytea Sun 09-Aug-09 11:23:16

No, she won't go near a shower! and in the swimming pool is v unhappy if anyone splashes her head or hair.

Thanks for dry shampoo idea cookielove, will def try

tetleytea Sun 09-Aug-09 11:24:19

very happy to hear about mad tricks, cornsilk!

cornsillk Sun 09-Aug-09 11:27:11

My ds won't let me spray dry shampoo on his hair so I spray it on my hands (it's really cold!) and rub it through his hair while he sleeps. I also apply conditioner if I know he's going swimming and other nights I comb through leave in conditioner spray while he sleeps - makes it look much better. Will she go in the paddling pool in the garden? We have resorted to that in the past! Just wetting it makes it look better when it's dry.

pinata Sun 09-Aug-09 11:41:48

My DD will only accept a hairwash if she lies on my lap, head back and using a 2 part bowl and sponge. Loses the plot in the bath if anything but the slightest hint of moisture goes near her face

might be worth a try. make sure the water is nice and warm and talk about it being such a great thing, then make a fuss of how nice having shampoo rubbed on is

purpleduck Sun 09-Aug-09 11:54:28

How about if she washes YOUR hair...? Just so she gets used to the idea in a way that she has more control over...?

terramum Sun 09-Aug-09 11:56:30

DS has always hated having his hair washed so we didn't push it. Wasn't so much of a problem when he was little as he didn't have much hair until he was nearly 2...and we didn't use any products on him anyway - just plain water.

Now he is 5 and has a LOT of hair. It's quite long but very curly so a quick wipe with a wet flannel like we used to just doesn't touch it LOL. But we have managed to keep bath time relatively stress free with a gentle wetting by getting him to lie on his back in the bath (with me behind him supporting him) and then using a Denman Be-Bop brush to brush through his hair and scalp while it's still wet. His hair looks better than mine tbh - very clean and shiny. No need for shampoo at all.

He does have some cradle cap left but it's not doing him any harm....and I have noticed it is slowly getting better all on it's own.

ChildOfThe70s Sun 09-Aug-09 12:04:08

My DS2 (5) has major hair washing phobia too - tbh I have just given up now, can't even remember the last time it was washed blush. I just keep it very short and luckily he is not very sociable so I haven't had to contend with head lice yet grin! He absolutely hates getting his head and face wet in the bath or swimming pool, although we just got back from holiday and he was a bit happier about the splashing in the pool so I am hoping that he will get over it eventually ...

DirtyKnees Sun 09-Aug-09 16:46:51

Wow I must say you are all nicer and more patient people than me. We took the view that dunking them under the water as babies got them used to it! We took them all swimming at 5 months and threw them up in the air and let them go under for a second. If that's the case then almost 3 must be too late to change anything now....?

kasef Sun 09-Aug-09 19:55:00

My kids all hated their hair washed when they were younger. up to being about 3 i had to wash their hair like you do a new born which they loved but hurt my arms like mad. i have noticed they like to hold the side of the bath so they don't feel like they are falling. I get my little darlings to sit with thier backs towards me, while i kneel at the side of the bath. I have a ** magic** cloth grin which is well rung and placed on the forehead and held there by you or them while you wet their hair with the small jug(about 1ltr). i didn't bother with shampoo at first till they got used to the magic cloth idea and i always had a towel to hand to catch any spills. perhaps get her to wet her hair with a small bottle so she is doing it?

normanthehairdresser Mon 10-Aug-09 07:59:47

My DS has just turned 3 - he's a little better about it in recent weeks, but has had full-on hairwash phobia for a good 18 months, plus the hysteria re wet hair in swimming pool. You have all my sympathy

It's helped recently that, with dawning understanding and verbal ability, I have been able to explain that if he shuts his eyes tight and looks up to the ceiling, the water won't go in. Maybe try if she's nearly 3?

Things which helped intermittently:

- special shampoo jug from Mothercare which fits over their forehead
- sponging his hair rather than pouring lots of water
- promising he could have it hairdried afterwards
- not doing it too often! I think you are very right to stick to the absolute minimum. We manage to do DS once a week under protest

Good luck

annas1 Mon 10-Aug-09 13:14:38

Hi there, poor you sounds like she has got really scared about hairwash time.

Have you tried letting her wash your hair in the bath and washing some dolls hair. I found that helped. I didn't push the hair washing just encouraged my DS to get in the bath with his Dad and wash his hair for him and to wash some plastic toys. Eventually he seemed to just calm down about it and is now fine.

Fayrazzled Mon 10-Aug-09 13:26:25

My son is almost phobic about hairwashing- he's turned 4. You have my sympathies, it is really really horrid for all concerned. We tried the special jug but that didn't work and we tried him leaning forwards rather than back- that didn't help. A flannel/towels over his eyes didn't work either and he's terrified of the shower. He absolutely refuses to go swimming too- he just hates the sensation of water in his face.

We have found a solution for the moment though- he wears swimming goggles to have his hair washed. There are a few whimpers but it is so much better and much less stressful than the screams and flailing around we had before. I found it so distressing hearing and seeing him that I would leave it and leave it too...

Dirtyknees- The problem isn't caused to my mind by being "too patient or too kind". I actually think "dunking him under" as a baby is what has caused this problem for my son. I took him to Water Babies classes when he was a baby up until about 18mths. He was fine (ish) as a small baby but by the time we finished he disliked the classes more and more and refused to swim under water, so we stopped going. My daughter- who at almost 2 has never been in a swimming pool and certainly never dunked is absolutely fine about having her hair washed and water poured over her head.

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