3 Year Old Afraid of Having Her Hair Washed

Jessica - posted on 01/31/2010 ( 67 moms have responded )

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So, about a month ago my husband's dad called and was talking to Lydia, our 3 year old. Grandpa is a dairy farmer, so she always asks if any of the cows have had babies. He told her about one of them that gave birth next to the pond and the calf ended up sliding into the pond and drowning.

Ever since then she's been terrified of bath time. She's fine to sit in the tub and scrub & play, but once it comes time to wash her hair, she loses her mind flipping out. Kicking and splashing, trying to get up and out of there. Its horrible. Like the water being poured over her hair (even it doesn't touch anything but her hair) just triggers something. I don't know.

I was just hoping someone might have some ideas on how to make this easier on all of us.

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Anne - posted on 02/04/2010

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My daughter is going threw that at the moment and she`ll be 4 next month, in our case we`re not really sure what happened but about the time she was 2 she came home from nana`s and just screamed and screamed about it and still does. Some times it helps if she takes a shower with me and I hold her while the shower head rinses her hair. I think they just need reassurance that they will be fine and that it has to be done. Best of luck I hear it passes

Betty - posted on 02/01/2010

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She may have forgotten the baby cow story. I don't think you should bring this up again. 3 year olds don't know what dead means and they don't know what drowning means either. Maybe she is scared about the water because of what she heard but most likely it is because she is just so confused about it. There's really no point in trying to explain it to her.

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

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Julie - posted on 02/06/2010

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My now 3 yr old daughter did not like getting her hair washed because the water would go in her face even if she had a cloth, so my husban and i took our 3 kids swimming a couple of times and put her under the water and when she found out we would not let her drown we was fine. now we have no problems with washing her hair and she tries to swim in the bath with her head under the water. she's now our little fish

Kiara - posted on 02/05/2010

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You could try talking to her about what her Grandfather said. That she doesn't have to worry about that happening to her. At least not while getting her hair washed. That story wasn't really 3 year old appropriate...but thats a whole other topic....I digress. Basically you could move hair washing into the kitchen and lay her on the counter and wash her hair in the sink. That way the water won't go over her face when you rinse it.

Ashley - posted on 02/05/2010

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if its been since her grandpa told her that bout the bout the cows baby then its proble going throw her head that she is gonna drown if she lays in the water. u proble needa sit her down u, ur husband, and her grandpa and talk to her about it let her no that u wouldnt let anything happen to her and there is nuthing to be afraid of. and she would proble beleave it more if her grandpa told it to her meaning hes the one who told her bout the baby cow.
sorry but that is like the only thing i can c that will help.
i have a 3 year old and when he gets scared of something cause of what ppl tell him that is the only thing that ever helps

TINA - posted on 02/04/2010

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I WENT THROUG HTHAT WITH MY DAUGHTER WHEN 2 WAS 2 AND UP UNTIL A FEW MONTHS AGO... I STARTED TO LET HER DO IT ON HER OWN LIKE WET HER HAIR WASH IT AND TRY TO RINSE... I WOULD SING A SONG... THIS IS THE WAY WE WASH OUR HAIR..... OR JUST KEEP TELLING HER WHAT A GOOD GIRL SHE IS.. I TELL MY GIRL YOUR MOMMIES BIG GIRL HUH... JUST STUFF LIKE THAT HELPED MY LITTLE GIRL OUT CAUSE I HAD A SCREAMER... SHE SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER IN THE SHOWER... GOOD LUCK.

Sam - posted on 02/04/2010

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hi i havent read all the comments so dont no if someone else has suggested this but the way we got my little girl out of it was by letting her help rinse her brothers hair wen the baby didnt cry and didnt get hurt by washing his hair she seemed to realise it was ok if you dont have a sibling u could maybe use a doll or urself i dont know i hope it helps and she stops soon the other thing is try not to stress about the hair rinse as she will sense ur stress and get worked up easier said than done but i know when i got stressed my girl got even more wound up and it wasnt till hubby pointed out that i wasnt helping that i twigged that i really wasnt

Laurie - posted on 02/04/2010

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my son hated having his hair washed so we let him wash our hair when we were in the bath. he loved it! with our supervision we also let him put the shampoo on his own hair and he helpd rince with a toy watering can and we bucket which he also enjoyed. try bringing a mirror into bathroom too, one she can see herself in when putting shampoo on etc... hope you get sorted :o)

Alexsis - posted on 02/04/2010

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Haha, My daughter had the same problem, and it was just heartbreaking!! When she was 2, she got soap in her eyes and for a long time bathing was almost impossible. The way I resolved the problem was talking to her, letting her know that everything is going to be okay. I taught her how to like a mermaid, and rinse her hair all by herself.
In your case, you may want to try bringing up the story of the cow. let her know the baby cow was unable to swim because of how young and small it was. Let her know that her body is big, and she is not a baby and can defend herself. Try to make up a game that will keep her entertained and happy through bath time. Take the emphasis off rinsing her hair, to a game where she has to get her hair wet. try anything that makes her comfortable. If all else fails, jump into the bath with her. let her know, in or out of the water..she is safe with you...nothing will ever happen to her. It sounds like she has some issues about the cow that are too big for her to reason herself and she needs your help.

Cindimeshell - posted on 02/03/2010

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My son at 3 still is very cautious of washing his hair. When he was one he had tubes put in his ears and ended up getting another set after that..so he is terrified of water going in his ear but he holds his ears and is content with that but when he was 2 he was taking a bath with his cousin and she bored some water out a cup over his face and it had soap in it and totally freaked him out..He used to hold a wash cloth over his eyes but sometimes water would still get in them so I can thought one say Why not put water goggles on him..He LOVED them cuz he thought it was fun like swimming..Hope this helps!

Ripeka - posted on 02/03/2010

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Next time you visit or speak with your father in law, maybe you could ask him to speak to your girl and let her know its ok to wash her hair... and that it is a normal thing to do?
If her trust in him has made this situation, then maybe if you ask him and let him know whats going on, he could help u with it...

Melissa - posted on 02/03/2010

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Ok, so I don't recommend always lying but in this case I think a lie would do. Give her a dry wash cloth and tell her to hold it on her for head and lean her head back. Tell her it is a magic wash cloth and will keep her safe from the water. Go out and buy a brand new THICK wash cloth. I had a similar problem with my son, although there was no story he just freaked out every time we tried to wash his hair. He is now 7 and still has to have the MAGIC wash cloth. Hope it works for you.

Josie - posted on 02/03/2010

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i do that too.. when mysonwas reluctaant to et me pt shamoo in his hair, i showed him how it looked and i spiked his hair with it.. it's fun now (though he still doesn't love washing it out!)

Margarita - posted on 02/03/2010

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My daughter is going on 4 and I have that problem...Maybe she thinks too much of that story too...I know that I had to get on my mother-in-Law's butt because she was forcing my daughter to lay down in the tub to rense her hair out...When my daughter would come home from visiting with her and I would give her a bath she would say "Don't want to lay down..." I asked her what she ment by that and she told my husband and I that Nanna holds my head down in water and I scary...You could imagine what I wanted to do...But in my opinion give her some time...I have found that if we "PLAY" a game its is easier and I don't have a bathroom full of water lol...Good Luck and I hope all works out for you...

Andrea - posted on 02/03/2010

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try taking a hand mirror and showing her all the shampoo in her hair, give her a cup and tell her that she can wash it out! maybe letting her do it herself will show her that it is safe.

Cassandra - posted on 02/03/2010

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I am so glad everyone has such enthusiastic responces... and Jessica, I know exactly where you are comming from. At the moment I have a 3 year old who doesn't like her hair washed because she HATES getting water in her ears. Have had them checked and stuff - no problems, she just doesn;t like it. Nothing I can do to distract her works, I can only hope to try and continue to make it fun and hope she grows out of it. :(

Josie - posted on 02/02/2010

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my son hates washing his hair so when pouring the water on his head i count "One, Two, Three!" and this distracts him a little - it becomes about he nmbers not the water...

Alexandria - posted on 02/02/2010

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Well I didn't have any traumatic stories like that, but I remember when I was little I HATED that part. I just got nervous about the soap in my eyes and it's the least fun part of the bath. My brother and sister were the same. Just calm her down before you do that. Give her distractions such as barbies, tell her to wash the barbies hair while you do hers. That's what my mom did!

Corey - posted on 02/02/2010

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My step son, Jay used that have that problem but my fiance, Danny would let Jay pour a cup full of water onto Danny's head. He would act like it was the best thing in the world! Made it seem fun and showed Jay that daddy's fine and Jay will be fine too. We did that every time for about a week. Now we can pour water onto his head and even get it into his face and he doesn't care!

Anitta - posted on 02/02/2010

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i named our roof rufus when my kids were little. i would say rufus, they put their heads up to rinse, we have a wash cloth over their eyes and sing nursery rhymes that had something to do with water or rain. my youngest is 7 and still calls the roof rufus and sings when i rinse

Trish - posted on 02/02/2010

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I am going thru this right now too. My 2 year old girl hates baths altogether, I have tried alot and the only thing I find that helps is if I shower with her and let my shampoo run thru her hair... I tell her to 'close eyes really tight' and we count together... then when we are done and hair is dry I let her smell my hair and her own.. we sit there for a bit talking about how nice it is tha our hair smells the same and what pretty clips will look good and if she likes she can brush my hair etc etc... it works for now and I know eventually she will get over it :)

Nicole - posted on 02/02/2010

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my son is nine and says that he feels like he is going to drown when i wash his hair so if i bend his head back and use a cup with tepid water and do it fast with a towel to wipe off any water or soap that gets on his face he only freaks out a little now and if we have to do it faward like in the bath i have him spit when the water runs down his face try haveing her spit then dry her face and let her take a breath then rinse or wash again

Jamie - posted on 02/02/2010

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My daughter went through this stage for about 4 months. at first, I tried the wash cloth, I tried a cup, EVERYTHING. the only thing that finally worked was my showerhead (one that can be held) and letting her stand up and basically take a shower. I would let her 'play' in the shower head water, let her hold it, stuff like that so she knew it wasnt scary, then told her to look up and let me rinse her hair. Honestly, that is the ONLY thing that would work for me. she is out of that phase now, and loves bath time again, but almost always wants her hair rinsed out like a shower (which i dont mind, i mean, freash water to rinse out the soap is nice). then she hops out of the shower and says bye bye water. Just give her a little time, I am pretty sure it is just a phase that most toddlers go through. Good Luck :]

Sarah - posted on 02/02/2010

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Hi you could try getting in the bath with her sit her on your you that might make her feel safe and get your husband to pour the water over her hair

Sarah - posted on 02/02/2010

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My 3 year old son did the same thing, he would freak and kick and try everything to get out of it when i washed his hair but he seemed fine when his daddy was doing it, i watched them one day, my fiancee gave him his own facecloth and put water in his hair with the facecloth with his help same with the shampoo then used the facecloth to get the soap out, it takes a LOT longer to do but no water goes over his face which he is frightened to death of. even now months later a splash of water gets near his face he freaks, but he is getting better with it, hope this helps

Kendall - posted on 02/02/2010

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I had the same problem with my daughter. I tried getting in the bath with her thing, letting her do it herself, and nothing worked until...Thank God for Dora...I told her that Swiper had his super swiping machine and would swipe those bubbles out of her hair REALLY FAST if she'd just tilt her head back and let him do it. We made a game out of it encouraging swiper to swipe the bubbles and she was all for it. She's perfect now and doesn't have a problem getting her hair washed and rinsed and we dont even need swiper anymore. :) Try talking to her about it...see what reason she has for why she doesn't like it. Maybe you can compromise with her...ie, let's wash your hair and then we can go color or...something. Good luck!

Ellen - posted on 02/02/2010

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I had the same problem with my son, the only way he will let us rinse his hair is to let him hold himself under the running faucet! I think he then feels like he has more control himself! He hates showers too but I guess its just an Idea

[deleted account]

i had the same problem and still do... i hate water in my face and my hate to scrub my hair bc of the suds near my ears and eyes... just be gentle and maybe it wouldnt hurt if you got in the bath with her or put a washcloth over her eyes...and did it while she was sitting up...

Saundra - posted on 02/02/2010

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When I was little my mom would play spa! She would sit me in a chair at the kitchen sink, we would use her fancy lotions and paint nails, and she would wash my hair in the sink and rinse with the sprayer. She would do this before nap time, and I remember falling right to sleep!

Christy - posted on 02/02/2010

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I think that her grandpa should have been wise enough to know that your daughter or almost any child at that age is not mentally prepared yet to know exactly what death is or how to deal with it,so he should not have told her about the calf drowning in the first place.

Christi - posted on 02/02/2010

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Have you tried reassuring her by talking to her while you hold her back and head? I used to have to kind of cradle my daughter in a similar way. Put your hand under her head and try to get a little of your arm slightly under her back and just reassure her that you wont let anything happen to her.

Erin - posted on 02/02/2010

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My duaghter went through the same thing at that age & it seemed to stop when (under supervision) i let her wash her own hair! by giving her, her own little girly shampoo bottle showing her how much too use & turning it into something that is fun, i also let her choose a cup that she liked tht was only for rinsing her hair with & for her to do it herself gave her heaps of confidence! now i'm trying to convince her still! that her hair doesnt need to be done every day! lol!

Betty - posted on 02/01/2010

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My step daughter is 4 and she hates having her hair washed too. I let her hold a dry towel over her face so she doesn't feel any water running across her face and that helps to keep her calm. Just make sure her head is tipped back so it's not like she's getting waterboarded.
Since your daughter is so young you could also try bathing with her and ask her to wash your hair first and then wash hers. If she is really close to you she might feel safe that way too.

Amber - posted on 02/01/2010

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try to keep the water out of her face or try to make a game out of it? also i wouldnt be telling her stories like that.

Jolene - posted on 02/01/2010

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My daughter went thru that also. They now make these cups that have a rubber peace that rest against the childs forehead and when they have it in place it molds with there head shape and then they can pour the water over there head with out the water dripping into the face.

Jen - posted on 02/01/2010

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It may or may not be related to what grandpa told her. My daughter does the same thing. It started when she was about 10 months old and is still going on at 26 months of age. She loves her bath and is very happy until you go to wash her hair. I think it has to do with her not wanting it in her face. I tell her to lean her head back and give her lots of encouragement like mommy likes how you're holding your head back like a good girl. It calms her down enough to rinse the shampoo out. I've also found that she's much calmer in the shower. She loves to get a shower with mommy and I love to kill 2 birds with 1 stone lol. :)

Stephanie - posted on 02/01/2010

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I didnt read the other replies so sorry if im repeating but my daughter used to be funny about having water on her head and we turned it into a little game i will count to three and then tip some water on her head then tell her what a big/clever/brave girl she is and clap and make a big deal out of it then we just built up the amount of water i would pour on her head and she now would rather a shower over a bath. We also got her one of those little hat things that shield her face which we used for the first week or so so it didnt get in her eyes HTHs

Kim - posted on 02/01/2010

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My daughter went through the same thing, she started arond 2. It didnt end until she was around 3 and a half and we found the greatest thing at walmart. Its a plactic cup/jug looking thing with a handle on it. On the one side is like a silicone piece that fits right up against their forehead and then you just tilt their head back a litle and pour, nothing goes in their face or ears, and she wasnt as scared. It worked like a charm and was pretty cheap too! Looks kinda like this but a little more basic and with a handle http://www.viewpoints.com/images/review/...

Leanne - posted on 02/01/2010

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p.s i also remember as a child not liking having my hair washed and remember my mum tellin me to ;look up and "find the fairies" in the ceiling, to distract me and also to keep my head bk so water didnt go in my eyes

Leanne - posted on 02/01/2010

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have not read any other responses so apologies if i repeat wat they have said, maybe explaining that not every time u go in water will you drown and explainging exactly what cause the cow to drown, or maybe that is too graphic for her... its a tough one... maybe not mentionng the drowning incedent again might be good.....i would suggest letting her wash your hair, make it a fun game although ur hair may need rewashing as she might not get all shampoo out etc... still her seeing u enjoy the experience might help her, also having a doll in the bath with ehr washing her hair at the same time??

Natasha - posted on 02/01/2010

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My daughter went through the same thing. It's a phase. Cause one day she was taking a bath and informed me I needed to wash her hair. I was like ummmm ok. LOL. She saw me washing her brothers hair one day, and I always put a wash cloth over his eyes to try and help keep the water and soap from getting in there. So now she has me do that with her, and she's just fine with it. Give it time, and maybe let her wash a dolls hair with shampoo. My daughter does that also. She washes her Dora's hair, and rinses it out.

[deleted account]

This may sound odd, but try taking a bath with her and let her rinse your head to show her that it is ok and will not hurt her. Try to talk to her about why she's so scared to have her hair washed when she's not in the bath. Bedtime is a good time, or when she's playing during the day. Maybe giving her a doll and let her wash the doll's hair while you wash hers so she can see what is happening, or you could wash the doll's hair first and then hers. I do agree that teaching her to do it herself is a great thing, but if she's afraid I think it would be best to find out why she's so scared first. If nothing works talk to your pediatrician or family dr to see if they have any ideas. Good luck, hope it helps ;-)

Kimberly - posted on 01/31/2010

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your welcome if that dont work let me know i have other tricks that i have had to use on my son to get him to like things after he lived with my parent in laws for about 3 months while me and my husband was getting our money problems straightened out.

Jessica - posted on 01/31/2010

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She's got a plastic cup in with her bath toys that she plays with. She used to LOVE bath time and didn't fight with washing her hair at all. It wasn't a struggle at all until the conversation with her grandpa.



I'll try getting her more involved with it next time. fingers crossed!



Congratulations, by the way!

Kimberly - posted on 01/31/2010

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have you tried getting a plastic cup from the kitchen and giving it to the child and letting her play with it and try getting her interested in washing herself and pouring the water on herself. i had to do that with my 2 year old. its still a fight from time to time but i have found that if you make it a game or make her feel like she is helping you. they will do more stuff then you would ever imagine that a 2 or 3 year old would do. by me doing this with my son he started helping putting his toys away at the age of 1. you might give this a try and if you want more information about this just send me an email on facebook and i will try and reply to it as fast as i can. im expected to give birth to my second child on february 3rd so it may be till after that i can reply to you but i will do my best to help out.

Jessica - posted on 01/31/2010

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Thanks for the idea's Christina! We've tried making sure the water doesn't go over her face. My husband even tried letting her rinse it via the shower, thinking maybe she'd find it fun, but neither thing worked. Maybe letting her hold a wash cloth over her eyes while we rinse would help. I remember doing that when I was younger because I hated having water on my face.

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

Christina - posted on 01/31/2010

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My daughter went through something like that when she was around two. The only thing I did was keep the water from going over her face & kept telling her what a big girl she was for letting me wash her hair. You might try to let her rinse her hair herself. That helped a lot with us when I started letting her get her own hair wet & helping to rinse it. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

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