48 answers

Too Sensitive?

My 18 month daughter screams and screams whenever I wash, comb or style her hair or try to clip her finger and toe nails. I try and be very gentle, but she thrashes around so I end up pulling her hair or having to hold her down with my legs or something. I feel like I'm torturing her! Every once in a while I get her distracted with something and she'll sit just fine for me. TV doesn't work. Food doesn't work. I don't want to cut her hair, and I can't let her fingernails turn into claws....what has worked for you?? Is it a phase? Is she just sensitive? Is it stubborness? If I let her hair stay down, it's in her face all day. Help!

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Thanks for all the advise! I'm giving some thought to just cutting her hair, but I'm going to try some of the other things first. Letting her help at bathtime and having some special toys to play with only when I'm styling her hair or cutting her nails. I might try doing that at night but she's not a realy sound sleeper, so we'll see how it works. I also really like the idea of giving her a doll so she can brush the doll's hair while I brush her hair. Thanks so much ladies!

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Cut her nails when she is sleeping. The hair thing is a tuff one. My daughter still has trouble with the hair. Try using conditioner diluted in a spray bottle. Let her spray it and use a big tooth comb that she picks out. I've tried all kinds of things. Some have worked and some haven't. If she wants it long then explain that if she doesn't let you fix it then it will look like a wicked old witch's hair. Otherwise keep it short.

T........as a mother of three, youngest 15, I can remember this scenario. Awe.............
Try putting her in the tub, and once she is relaxed, and you too.........clipping and combing will be a breeze.

Try clipping her nails when she is asleep. As for her hair I have an eight year old that I fight with. Good luck.

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Dear T.,

Two things to share with you. Hopefully one of them at least will help you feel better. My husband has cousins, two of them to be exact, with highly sensitive hair follicles. It really does hurt to cut, comb, wash. They are even growing up now (I think Mack is 15, Liz is around 12). For as long as I can remember, Mack's hair has been a buzz cut, that is just what works best for him. Liz has her hair long, and 90% of the time it is in a loose pony tail. Now your daughter is 18 months. She may be suffering from sensitive hair follicles OR she could just hate having her hair done. LIke my daughter who is now 6. I had a hell of a time doing her hair until she was 5. Now and then she'd get the yen to have her hair done and we'd give it a try. She just wouldn't sit still, and couldn't handle it most of the time. One thing that did help was doing her hair in front of the TV or a toy that sits still in her lap. So use something to distract her that doesn't move too far. You may have to do what I did and give up on having a cute kid until she's got her wiggles out. Use a good conditioner so that her hair is silky soft and doesn't knot easily and insist that it get brushed before you go anywhere and definitely before and after nap or bedtime. And maybe cut some bangs for her so her hair stays out of her face. You could try cutting it when she's out cold at naptime or bedtime. But be careful. You know scissors are sharp no matter when you are using them. OR, a cute clip for her bangs to stay out of her face? Just one, and chose one that doesn't slip out, doesn't rip hair, and is barely there. I know hard to do.
Finger and toenails, I let my husband do that. Our daughter doesn't sit still STILL for me for that. Maybe have grandma do it when she visits. It isn't that you're doing it wrong, (and this may sound harsh) but it may be that YOU are doing it. I think my daughter likes me only to do certain things and that is the spot I am to stay in. I hope that isn't your case, but maybe it is.

Hope that helped!!
V., PTSAHM mother of 1 girl age 6.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T., I had a similar problem with my daughter as well at that age. She's 22 months now and fusses a little but generally she's come to enjoy/accept it.
What we did was I started letting her brush my hair, her doll's hair, her teddy bear's hair. I would tell her she's helping mama take care of her hair, she liked doing that. I wouldn't follow up with brushing her hair, just let her brush mine. We bought a special brush just for her hair, and I let her brush her own hair. We also made up a song about brushing our hair. Now, when I need to brush her hair, I let her brush mine at the same time I brush hers. I let her know she's so helpful for brushing mama's hair and making it pretty. Sometimes before I actually brush I'll just sit with her and "massage" her head, neck by lightly running my fingers around (I run my fingers through her hair to get some of the big snarls out very subtly).
She's generally much better, sometimes she objects a little so I just drop it and try again in 15-20 minutes. You don't want it to become an experience that she loathes and dreads. If she is really fighting you, throw a hat on her head if you're heading out and try again when you get back.
Nails are trickier, I let her watch me trim the cats nails, trim my nails. We made up a song about this too, but sometimes I can only get 2-3 nails at a time :)
I hope this helps. :)

1 mom found this helpful

This is a very normal phase. I have been there as all mom's have at some point (whether it is hair or clothes or eating). Children want control and they should be given it. This is her body. There are some things we can't "make" kids do. I suggest you give your daughter a choice such as who will brush her hair. ie. "Do you want mommy or daddy to brush your hair today?"

You can take her to the store and let her pick out her "own" brush. My sister bought each of my girls one of those really big toothed detangling combs that curve near the base. These work great on wet hair. They really liked them especially after swimming lessons.

Also, just as others have suggested, get some spray-on detangler. There are lots available. Let your daughter smell them so that she can choose the one she likes the best.

Lastly, please remember that this is HER hair. If it tangles easily, perhaps you need to question your reasons for not cutting it for her benefit. You have your own hair that you get to choose how long to keep it. Maybe it would be best to let hers be shorter for a while until she can accept the care it requires if the other motivators don't work.

Remember that you are blessed to have a free thinking independent daughter and you need to guide her without crushing that spirit!

From one mom of a strong willed child to another, good luck and enjoy!

Have you ever heard of sensory intergration therapy. It's usually offered by occupatioanl therapists to children who exhibit signs of sensory overload. Sensory overload can happen with any or all senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and/or hearing. My now 16 year old has had this since birth. We tried the therapy, but couldn't really keep up with it. He seems to be a little more tolerant the older he gets. My suggestion is that you are very sensitive to your child's discomfort. Not liking to have this done is very real for her. Get her hair cut short so you can quickly get it combed out. I know, getting their hair cut is a feat in and of itself! Talk to her, at a time when you are not needing to comb her hair, and tell her you know she doesn't like getting her hair combed but you are going to be very careful when you have to do it. Ask her if she would like to do it herself and if she does let the job she does be good enough. As for her finger nails, you can try hand and arm massage with or without lotion to help her adjust to touch on those parts of her body. These types of kids often prefer firm touch, but you can feel that out for yourself. It's possible she may not like this. You should do this every day and especailly right before you cut her nails. All that being said, let me make it clear, I'm not an occupational therapist; just a mom who's lived through this. Also, good news lots of kids don't like these chores and many of them just grow out of this stage of objection.

It depends on how your child sleeps, but you could try clipping her nails while she is taking a nap. I don't know what to do about the hair situation.

My daughter was also like that, she is now almost 6 and does her hair herself (thank goodness)but still will not do the ponytail or braid thing. When she was little I would give her a brush and while she was "brushing" I would sneak my brush inbetween her strokes. It seemed to work fairly well. As for the finger and toe nails I kept a clipper in the car and when she would fall asleep in her carseat I would clip what I could before I moved her. Sometimes I would only get a few done at a time but was able to keep them under control. Good luck.

Hi. I am a mother of 5 kids. My two oldest are boys, and did the same thing you described. I clipped their nails while they were asleep- they were never the wiser if I did so. About the washing and doing hair, my boys had short hair, so I just told them we'd be fast and assured them that I loved them while we worked. They really did grow out of it. For my boys who are now 8 and 6, it was just a phase. Good luck!

I have a 21 month old daughter who has tons of hair so I have to do it. I've found that once she got used to me doing it, she's better about holding still. When we started out I would do her hair in her car seat right as we were leaving to go places. I've also done it while she was strapped in her high chair. Now I can just have her sit on our bathroom toilet and she's pretty good. As far as fingernails, I really like using the little scissors that are made for cutting fingernails. They are easy to use and I just do it when she's on her changing table after a bath. My daughter is a stubborn kid, but she will hold still when I sing songs or make a game out of things. She is also old enough that if I tell her she has to get her hair done or we can't play/go somewhere she's pretty good about listening.

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