Dealing with a Childhood Haircutting Phobia – Advice & Support Welcome!

by Insomniac Mummy on January 22, 2011

I’ve written about Big E’s phobia of having his hair cut on more than one occasion, and by now, almost two and a half months after his 4th birthday, I was hoping he’d have ‘grown out of it’.

But, he hasn’t.

My boy is quite literally terrified of having his hair cut. He screams blue murder when we wash it, has a meltdown when we use the hairdryer, and we’re lucky if we can get a brush through it once a week. It’s an ongoing battle of us not losing our patience and not forcing him to do anything he’s uncomfortable with, in the hope that he’ll one day simply have his hair cut.

I guess a phobia like this is often hard to understand. After all, a haircut is something most of us happily have many times a year. For my boy, the very thought fills him with dread and panic. The last time he had his haircut properly was May 2010. In the eight months since, he’s let me trim his fringe once, and the three snips he allowed me to make took over an hour and a half to complete.

It was torturous for the both of us.

Today my gorgeous mop top boy has hair so long he is regularly mistaken for a girl. He wants his haircutting and has mentioned two friends from nursery whose hair styles he likes, we just can’t persuade him to actually go through with the cut. Out of the blue he asked to go to the hairdressers one Saturday morning, and we thought, ‘Yes! A breakthrough!’, but he got through the door and started physically shaking before his Daddy could even get him in the chair, so home he came. One step forward, two steps back.

He’s watched Daddy have his hair cut with the clippers, I’ve shown him umpteen videos on You Tube, nursery have had special days just for him where they’ve talked about hairdressers and even cut, washed, brushed and dried dolls’ hair. Nothing works. Nothing.

I feel like I’m at the end of my tether. I cannot even explain how stressed and upset it makes me feel, I’ve cried over it, so goodness only knows how my poor boy feels about it all! I think I’ve got to the point where I have no choice but to go and visit our (very child friendly) GP and see if there is anything at all he can suggest to help with what is most certainly a phobia.

I just want this stress to be over. For all of us.

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Ellie is a working mum. In her spare time she spends far too much time waffling on the internet. She's a Twitter addicted Facebook fanatic, and an all round social media butterfly. You can also find her on Google + as Insomniac Mummy. She once walked across England and is planning on walking 100K in one day in May 2014 for Cancer Research. All she really wants is a good night's sleep...

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

susie@newdaynewlesson January 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Have you tried sitting down with him and telling him how proud you are of _____ (how he plays with little E, how he cleans up his toys…..)

Then say I know it is hard for you to go get your hair cut. What do you need in order for it to be something fun for you? Wait until he comes up with something. Also let him know he can think about it.

You might be surprised with what he comes up with.

Good luck.

BTW-does he let YOU cut his hair?
susie@newdaynewlesson recently posted..It’s Okay To Feel Like A Doofus Once In A While


Ellie January 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I’ve been specifically spending more one on one time with him Susie, and making sure I tell him how proud of him I am, for things like being kind to his sister, eating all his tea, drawing a great picture etc etc. We’ve tried asking what’d make it fun for him, but when it come to crunch time he still always backs out.

Last night he said chocolate and a DVD while I cut it, he got the chocolate and DVD but no cut.

He doesn’t really let me cut it, hence the 1.5 hours for 3 snips scenario. We’ve reied me Daddy, Nana, the hairdresser. Everyone gets the same reaction. :(



susie@newdaynewlesson January 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm

BTw-I meant to say that the praise should be specific-as in not you are a big boy, rather specific actions like I mentioned above.
susie@newdaynewlesson recently posted..It’s Okay To Feel Like A Doofus Once In A While


Claire, Cheshire Mum January 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Are there any specific kids salons near you? We have “little big heads” which is just for kids. They have a TV screen in front of each chair. I don’t go there but I take a portable DVD player & H watches his movie. Sitting in front of a mirror is really entertaining for them so try doing it that way at home too. Is there a daddy trip to the barbers that could make him feel very special? They are noisy places, I often let H play with a bag of craft feathers & the hairdryer – yes it’s messy but they are easy to clear up & he doesn’t bat an eyelid at the noise now. A promise of a special treat. If you’re anxious they’ll be worse maybe one for mum to pass on to Dad or a Grandparent? Hope these thoughts help its so distressing stuff like this :-(
Claire xxx
P.s. I do come here often just don’t often get chance to comment. Ya know?!


Ellie January 25, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Unfortuately there are no children’s salons near us. If there were I’d've tried, that’s for sure! We’ve tried infront of a DVD and with Thomas & Friends on the iphone. He’s been with Daddy and the special treat bribery is waaaaaay beyond working for us, sadly.

I like the feathers and hairdryer idea, I think that’s definitely worth a go.

It is distressing isnlt it? And ridiculously so. I feel like a prize fool but I just want him not to be so afraid!

Thanks for commenting lovely lady.



Liz January 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Oh I feel for you! Lily still will not goto a hairdressers or have a hair dryer near her head either and she’s nearly 8. I’m still cutting her hair which she’s ok with, but thankgod it’s curly! She went once to a hairdressers which she enjoyed and that was a special childs one in Vancouver, but not exactly somewhere we can go back to. I think she was about 5 at the time and I thought we’d cracked it . But once we got home she point blank refused to go again.
I’m hoping peer pressure will kick in soon and she’ll force herself to go, you know what girls are like. So you’re not alone, let me know if you find a way x
Liz recently posted..The Gallery Mother Nature


Ellie January 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

You expect them to ‘grow out of it’ don’t you? I show him all the time that the hairdryer doesn’t hurt, and have bought him a ‘cushioned’ brush and told him it doesn’t hurt but still no joy. I eben snipped a piece of hair from the back of his head while he wasn’t looking yesterday, to prove it didnlt hurt then showed him and he went crackers with me. He’s obsessed that it’ll itch.

I feel for you too! One day we’ll laugh about all this!



A Modern Mother January 25, 2011 at 7:28 am

drug him?
A Modern Mother recently posted..On haggis and Burns Night


Ellie January 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Hmmmmm. Perhaps not…..


Dymphna January 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Poor little fellow! He has lovely hair! You seem to have tried a lot of what I was going to suggest! Maybe just going with Daddy?? A boys trip to hairdresser! Also if you know a nice, kind hairdresser who you can chat to about this and who’ll be sympathetic!
Does he think it’ll hurt??
My son had long-ish hair but I cut it up a bit as he was getting the girl comments.
If he really won’t have it cut, I suggest you trim it while he sleeps!!
Dymphna recently posted..Miggle C


Ellie January 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I was up half the night last night with him sleeping in my bed and I just kept thinking, ‘I could just snip it now’, but everytime I stroked his head to see how asleep he was he told me to get off his head! It’s like he’s hyper aware of his hair or something?!

I think I need a new tactic, but what I do not know!



Rosie Scribble January 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

I remember that original post and I remember commenting that I was in the same boat with my daughter. I still am! Luckily as she’s a girl she can get away with wearing itr long. I wrote about it on Ready for Ten recently and someone suggested a mobile hairdresser which I think is worth trying. Perhaps your little boy could visit the hairdressers with his dad just so he can see it’s okay.
Rosie Scribble recently posted..Quidditch and an ageing teacher


The Mad House January 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I have just read this and how about the hairdresser comes to you and does it at home?
The Mad House recently posted..I am lonely


Mwa (Lost in Translation) January 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

How about just letting it grow long until he gets over his fear? My son had a ponytail for a while and it was very cute.
Mwa (Lost in Translation) recently posted..Cra-zy in the head


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