My Four Year Old Wants To Chop Her Hair Off

Mama can't let go!

Mama can’t let go!

The plan was simple. I was going to be a mom who knew which battles to pick.  That is, I wasn’t going to sweat it when my kids wanted to plaster the walls of their room with obscure German punk bands or vintage Ralph Macchio posters.  I also wasn’t going to power struggle over their clothing choices so long as their private parts were covered.  When it came to their bodies, my guiding principle was to let them be.  I was prepared to honor just about anything they did in the name of creativity and self-expression.

Then, my actual child started asking me for a hair cut.  My daughter, she of the lovely curls around which I had woven a bit of an identity, wanted a short, short hair cut. Like any good mother committed to honoring her daughter’s process, I ignored her.  I literally refused to engage in a conversation about her cutting off all of her curls.  I think the technical term is DENIAL.

Because she’s smarter than I am, she started pointing out people who had hair she wanted.  She held up a Harry Potter book and said, “This, Mama.”  In public, she voiced her desires, knowing I couldn’t very well ignore her all the way through Target.  And I couldn’t.

But I also couldn’t very well say to her, “No, honey, that’s not what you want.”  Rule numero uno in my parenting manifesto was (and is) Don’t invalidate children’s reality.  She wants what she wants.

Plan B was to hope she changed her mind.

It’s not working.  The only reason I have any solid ground on which to stand for not marching her over to Snippets Hair Salon is that sometimes she changes her mind.  Like when she begs for strawberry ice cream and then cries because she really wanted chocolate.  Or when she desperately wants to go to the park only to reach hysterics when she leans she had to forego a chance to take a bike ride.

She’s four.  She’s fickle.  I can’t very well take her at her word about something as drastic as a haircut, can I?

But I never wanted to be a mom that treated my kids like dolls to dress up and force to conform to my vision.  I also never thought a four-year-old girl would want to chop all of her hair off.

It’s a dilemma.  Next time she brings it up, I swear I will make an appointment and take her at her word.  I’ll let fate decide what happens to her glorious curls.  And if the end up on the salon floor, I’ll sweep them up and make myself a wig, since I’m the one who loves the damn curls so much.

For more on my curl quandary, clickety click here.


38 thoughts on “My Four Year Old Wants To Chop Her Hair Off

  1. Wow, that is some gorgeous hair! Does she wear it up a lot? Could you compromise with new styles/barrettes?

    I had super long red hair when I was young. My mother couldn’t bear for me to cut it…so I did it myself in second grade.

  2. Okay, I am deleting the WordPress app for iPhone as this is the 3rd time I am writing this, somehow I accidentally deleted it. You all know, I am not a techie person. So now I am annoyed. 😐

    Anyway. My daughter who is now 13 next month, had a similar thing at around 5ish- 6ish. Her “Ole Iron Fisted Grandmother” would do her hair so tight, by am recess she would have a headache, pull the hair do out. When she got to back to her grandmothers she would be disciplined, (spanked) for this. When I questioned her father, this was occurring on his custodial time, (at her maternal grandmothers home). My daughters story was invalidated and she was actually disciplined for another wrong doing, everyday. So we went to the hair salon, right after THAT conversation, she decided on a above the shoulder bob, with sideways bangs. By the time her hair grew out for anyone to “try” and “fix” her hair my daughter was old enough to say “NO I can do it myself, thanks” That’s the one thing I don’t I don’t see in your post, she only says she wants short hair, not a why!

  3. I have been obsessed with cutting my hair since probably Sadie’s age. I remember the first time it became a fight – I was 10 and I wanted to cut 11 inches off and my mom worried I wouldn’t like it. She gave in and I loved it. It grows back!!

  4. Having brushed Sadie’s hair, I think she might want it shorter so it is easier to take care of. I suggest a conversation where you discuss different types of hair and that they don’t all work with each style. You could work the conversation around to a style (maybe like Hermione) that you could both live with. Something shoulder length or a little longer would be more manageable for her…and hair grows. After you and Sadie agree on a style, you can make a big deal about a mommy/daughter appointment to get her hair cut followed by lunch. On occasion, Miriam still lets me have input in to her hair style.

  5. honestly, i feel your pain. i have a kid who is almost defined by his hair as well. but while, i’d never cut – i figure he’d do that when he rebelled in his teenage years – if he asked me to cut it. i would bite my lip till it bled and do it. hate it. but do it. but only if he really really wanted it. it’s just hair. even if it’s freaking gorgeous! it’ll grow back.

  6. Mmmmm…I gave in to my Kate becoming Katherine at almost 3. She’s Katherine 10 years later (in her defense it is her actual name). I love short hair & my girls had short little bobs until they could brush it themselves or let me do it without major fits. But, that curly goodness is going to take a long time to grow out. I like the idea of getting into the why of it. Maybe it’s too tangly. Maybe she wishes it were straight not short (sorry kid…that ain’t gonna happen) or likes bangs (gasp!). I often use my stylist to do the dirty work…explain why her hair isn’t ever going to look like Harry Potter’s. Or show her pics of someone with short curly hair or her own hair before it grew long. It will grow, but my sister still has PTSD from a bad Dorothy Hamill cut.

  7. My 22 year old decided at 4 years of age that she was not having the bangs I cut into her hair. She enlisted the help of her grandma and they ganged up on me. At 4 years old! So I relented and she has never had bangs again. She still shows pictures of her self with bangs and says “See what my Mom made me have?” I think she thinks it was actual child abuse.

    It’s just hair (albeit gorgeous curly perfection). It will grow back.

  8. I say take her in and get a trim. She may then tell you why she wants it shorter if she does indeed want it shorter for real.

  9. Admittedly, I do not have a daughter (but I have one son with long hair, and one with a buzz cut–their choices), but I *do* have curly hair. And it’s a pain in the you-know-what. It’s just hair–let her get it cut, and it will grow back if she changes her mind. Or you may find that you love it shorter because it’s so much easier to care for. My mom made me get mine cut when I was in 1st grade because she got tired of having to ‘do’ it for me. I had the little orphan Annie look until about 5th grade, and I was so traumatized by that I kept it long for the next 18 years or so. But somewhere in my late 20’s, I got tired of it, cut it short, and have never looked back. I know you’ll get her a better cut than the Annie look. No harm in trying it out.

  10. I’m a little heartbroken myself at the prospect of Sadie going short. But it’s so like her to want it since you don’t. And it will grow back for sure – eventually. I don’t know what I’d do in your case, but I’d definitely wait and make sure she wants it for a long time before she gets it – so it’s not just a whim.

  11. My daughter wants to grow hers out long, and she looks SO adorable with short hair. It kills me because she wants it long and scraggly (sp?) and I just can’t stand it most days, but she is happy… you have short hair? Or is yours long?

  12. I have the opposite struggle . . . my son wants to grow his hair LONG. He’s 8. And doesn’t have the type of hair that will look good long. It will get more fluffy and fro-like than the long surfer dude do that he’s thinking of (aka his friend’s hair). I let him grow it a bit, but insist on regular cuts to maintain it. I’m gonna have to give in someday. Sigh.

    I say cut it off. She’ll either love it or she’ll freak out. If she freaks, no more issue in the future! That hair will grow until she’s 80!

  13. Why are we also dealing with the same stuff???? I totally understand this quandry because Anna just announced this week that she wants to chop off her long blonde hair also. It makes my stomach hurt to even think about it. BECAUSE I have the same fears you do: what if she regrets it and cries for 17 months while trying to grow it back out? Maybe this comes from my own horrible hair cut experience at her age, but I too have been putting off making the appt. hoping she’ll forget about it. Sigh. Please keep us posted!

  14. I feel your pain. Maggie got her first-ever haircut two months ago… two weeks before her 5th birthday! She never asked to get it cut, it was just long and tangly and it was time… and we didn’t cut very much off, just a few raggedy inches at the bottom… but I still had a little tear in my eye at the salon. But then, just yesterday she tells me she wants to cut it super short!! That put me straight into the denial/ignoring that you describe above. I could deal with a trim, but short?? Oh my. She’d probably look fine, it’s me who has the issue! I’m praying it was a passing thought and she never brings it up again.

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