Strategies for Hair cutting


Removing the Fear of Sight and Sound of Clippers/Scissors

  • Slowly introduce clippers/scissors placing across the room and moving closer as tolerated
  • Once tolerated nearby, slowly introduce sound by turning clippers on across the room and moving closer as tolerated
  • Present preferred activity for distraction during introduction of clippers/scissors
  • Utilize vibrating massager to desensitize sound of clippers


Removing the fear of the touch with clippers or hair

  • Use of vibrating massager progressing from tolerating touch on extremities progressing to tolerating touch on various locations of head/neck
  • Use of feathers and other items similar in texture to hair to play a game encouraging tolerating touch to different parts of the body including neck, arms, back, ears.
  • Brushing protocol
  • Encourage messy play
  • Deep pressure/massage to scalp


Use of tools to reduce noise

  • Headphones or earplugs
  • Preferred music

Additional Strategies

  • Use of scissors if clippers can’t be tolerated
  • Wet hair instead of dry
  • Use of something to prevent hair from touching skin
    • Visor
    • Turtleneck or towel
    • Clippers that collect hair
    • Hairdryer to blow hair
    • Showering immediately following haircut
  • Use of calming strategies during task
  • Weighted blanket/compression clothing
  • Fidget
  • Preferred activity
  • Brushing protocol
  • Tip
  • Allow child to have some control by providing choices with use of compensatory strategies.
  • Use of social stories
  • Watching videos on hair cutting
  • Pretend play with dolls or stuffed animals
  • Playdough hair cutting tools
  • Use of rewards
  • Favorite activity for distraction
  • Step by step picture schedule
  • Timer
  • Hair cutting apps (ex: Hair Salon)
  • Slow, fun, non-pressured progression of steps
  • Engage child in activity by giving them a job (ex: hairdryer)
  • Establish pleasant memories of hair cutting and replace unpleasant memories
  • Increase frequency of task to keep pleasant thoughts in recent memories

For more information, visit