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Hair Washing and Kids

Mommy Dearest: Daughter Refuses to Wash Her Hair

Mommy Dearest –

I'm a full believer in allowing children to express themselves. I don't argue when my daughter wants to wear crazy things to school. I allow her to paint her nails in hideous colors. And I've even been known to help her add some wild purple streaks to her hair. But we've come to clashes over self-expression versus hygiene.

After running around at camp all day, she resists bathing and when I can get her in there, she outright (and physically) refuses to let me wash her hair. She says she likes the way her dirty hair looks and doesn't mind the smell. I've tried explaining the health reasons for washing and she insists that this is her "new look". While I'm happy for her to look however she likes, the smell is getting really bad, and I'm afraid that she will be mocked at camp. Do you have any advice?

– Shear Madness Mama

To see Mommy Dearest's response,


Dear Shear Madness Mama –

Sounds like you have quite a stinky situation on your hands. In your effort to provide your daughter with the freedom of self-expression, you seem to have become lenient in reminding her about limits. As her mother, you have the last word. Rather than worry about her being mocked at camp, you might focus on the cleanliness issue here. She needs to know that cleanliness is not negotiable.


– Mommy Dearest

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Join The Conversation
MissSushi MissSushi 7 years
Yeah, I totally agree with skigirl on this one. Great advice. Anon6 has a great point too. We have been fooled into thinking hair needs to be washed constantly, and it doesn't. Traditional soaps and shampoos cause your hair to create more oil the more you wash it. A kid running around at camp getting dirty and sweaty calls for washing more regular, but don't think your hygeine is spiraling downhill if you don't wash your hair daily. I wash mine once a week or so, and people tell me whenever I go out, how nice it looks/smells.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Skigirl has an excellent point -- your daughter likes something about the way her hair looks when it's dirty. Why not go to the drug store and get a product that replicates that?
TammyO TammyO 7 years
Wash it for her. Either she does it or you do it. There shouldn't be any arguing about it. My five year old hates getting her hair washed and as a result we let her go longer than usual between washings, luckily she has thick, wavy hair and it's not a big deal to not wash it for a week but after that she gets in the shower and I scrub her hair, screaming or not. There shouldn't be any negotiation.
TidalWave TidalWave 7 years
I am pretty sure one of the stories in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle addresses this. I would look for these books at the library and look through to find the one that teaches a lesson about a girl who refuses to wash her hair (or refuses to take a bath, I can't remember what it is). Read the story (it is humorous) to your daughter and see if that helps.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
I read this while eating lunch and was slightly grossed out. You need to be firm, but I was also thinking, maybe she likes something that her hair has when it's dirty - wave? volume? lack of volume? shine? Something you can get from a product. Maybe if you tell her if she washes it you will get her one of those products that you spray in and you can get "beach hair" she will do it, because it will still give her the bedhead dirty look but will be actually clean and smell nice.
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