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Hair growth and removal

Hair growth is one of the most noticeable physical changes that will happen to your child at puberty.

Introduction

Girls will begin to grow hair under their arms and on their vulva, and the hair on their legs will become thicker and darker. Boys will begin to grow hair under their arms, around their penis and testes and on their face. Some boys will also grow hair on their chest and back.

Hair growth is a normal part of growing up. Keeping or removing hair is a personal choice, and you can support your child to make their own decision about what to do with the new hair growth.

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Your child may wish to remove hair from their body for a number of reasons including:

  • feeling uncomfortable with their new hair growth
  • wanting to fit in with their peers
  • sensory related issues

In the case of facial hair it may also be a requirement of their school uniform code.

There are a number of different hair removal techniques including:

  • Shaving with razor
  • Electric shaver
  • Waxing
  • Hair removal creams
  • Laser hair removal
  • Epilator
  • Tweezing
  • Threading

When helping your child choose a method of hair removal it can be important to think about the different sensory impacts of each method including smells and sounds (electric shaver) as well as the physical sensations.

You may need to trial a few different types of hair removal before you find the right one for your child.

It can also be good to talk to your child about who they want to help them with their hair removal. Some people prefer to have a family member help while others prefer to go to a beauty salon.

Conversation Starters

Dad is about to shave his beard. Why don’t you go and watch him? You’re starting to grow up now which means you might have a beard soon too.
I’ve noticed that the hair on your legs is getting darker. That’s ok. It’s a normal part of growing up. Some people like to remove the hair on their legs when it gets dark or thick. Have you and your friends talked about this before?
Can you see the hair under my arms when I lift my arm up? That’s because I haven’t shaved it for a few days. I have noticed that you are getting some dark underarm hair too. That means you’re growing up. Would you like to watch how I shave the hair under my arms?

Strategies for you to try

Use an electric shaver

Electric shavers can be great for beginners or if you are concerned about your child’s safety when using a razor. They can also be a good option if your child does not like the smell or feel of shaving cream.

While electric shavers a generally safer than using a standard razor, the noise they make and the vibrating sensation against the skin may create some sensory issues. For this reason it can be a good idea to spend some time getting your child used to the shaver by turning it on and off and holding it against your child’s arm before placing it on more sensitive places like their face.

Electric shavers also require a bit more time and effort to clean than a standard razor. You can use social stories or visual schedule to teach your child how to safely clean the electric shaver and how to dispose of the hair.
Some children may not like the feel and sound of an electric shaver. That is ok. There are plenty of other options for hair removal that they can try.

Backwards chaining

Ask your child to choose how they want to remove their hair. Write down each step they will need to do to remove their hair. Help your child do all of the steps but the last one. Let them do this step by themselves. For example, if you are teaching your child to shave their legs you can:

  1. Wet their leg with water
  2. Put on the shaving cream
  3. Shave their leg with a razor
  4. Wash their leg
  5. Ask them to dry their leg.

As your child gets more confident you can ask them to do more of the steps without your help. For example, the next time your child shaves their legs they might wash the shaving cream off and dry their leg.

Not all children will be able to do these steps by themselves. That is ok. It is still important to teach them as much of the skill as possible so they can be as independent as possible.

You can adapt this strategy to teach your child other types of hair removal like using an electric razor or hair removal cream if they prefer to use these methods.

Modelling

Modelling is a powerful way of teaching your child new skills. Model the method of hair removal yourself and have your child watch and assist where possible.

Prepare your child for nicks and cuts

Talk to your child ahead of time about the possibility of nicks and cuts when using a razor. Discuss what to do if this happens including using tissue paper or a stypic pencil to stop the bleeding.

Practice on smooth surface

Practice by applying shaving cream to a balloon or smooth ball and have your child remove the shaving cream with a covered razor to practice applying the right amount of pressure.

learning about girls’ bodies

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Introduction to puberty for girls
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