Whether we like it, dislike it, keep it, or remove it - body hair is natural. Body hair should never cause a child, tween, or teen to feel shamed or embarrassed.
Don't let the idea of talking to your children about body hair feel awkward and uncomfortable. Helping children to understand their body hair is a big part of parenting, but not a big deal. Kids need to know that hair on their bodies is going to grow and change as they enter into puberty. They also need to know it is okay. It's part of life.
As parents, part of our job is to help our children prepare for puberty . . . and part of puberty is the growth of body hair.
Talk About It
Any topic related to puberty is personal. Body hair, of course, falls into that category. My husband and I prefer a direct approach when talking to our children about these types of things. But, I also believe that individual families can handle things in individual ways. So by all means, do what’s right for you and your family.
A basic rule of thumb is to talk to your children about body hair before the need ever arises. Parents Magazine suggests you begin talking to your children around the age of seven or eight. This is usually when children are on the cusp of puberty.
A Little Hair Here, A Little Hair There
Did you know there are two types of body hair and that hormones only control one of them? Vellus body hair, or peach fuzz, covers the body of most children. But as puberty begins so does the development of terminal body hair. Doctors describe terminal hair as ‘the thick, long, pigmented hair found on the scalp, face, armpits and pubic area.’
Children need to know that at some point hair will begin to grow under their arms, in their pubic area, and even on their face. It’s part of growing up and it’s a good thing.
A Bit Excessive
Puberty aside, some children have a predisposition to grow excessive amounts of body hair. Extreme amounts of hair may grow on their legs, arms, eyebrows, or upper lip. If this is the case with your child and they find it bothersome or embarrassing, by all means take care of it!It is important for children to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Then, make a plan for increasing their confidence, decreasing their body hair, or both.
If unwanted or excessive hair bothers them, please don’t ignore their feelings. Talk to them about the situation.
Taking Care Of Body Hair
Once the conversation about body hair has begun, it is time to start talking about taking care of the hair. Good old-fashioned soap and water is all body hair needs. Still, a handful of children are going to show an interest in removing some, if not all, of their body hair. This should be your child’s choice. Explore the options and let them lead the way.
Sam faced body shame in the boys' locker room.
Boys and girls may both have an interest in removing unwanted body hair. Girls - from under their arms, their legs, and their bikini line. Boys - from their face and jawline.
There are countless ways to remove body hair; it is definitely not a one size fits all approach. Some popular methods for removing body hair are shaving, plucking, and waxing.
It is important to talk with your child about their interest in removing their body hair. It is also important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of body hair removal. Some methods of removal have longer lasting effects and others can be painful.
The Bottom Line About Body Hair
Body hair is a fact of life and is beautiful in its own way. It is a sign that your child’s body is happy and healthy and doing what it's supposed to do. Regardless of when your child starts to grow body hair, understand that it’s a natural part of maturing.
Watching our children grow up can be hard but it can also be amazing. Observing children change from adorable little people into mature individuals is pretty cool. I might even consider it an authentic parent perk. Needless to say, the day my 10-year old passed me by in height was bitter sweet. Children will eventually grow body hair. Children will also eventually emerge from the cocoon of youth into young adulthood.
Talk to your children about growing up, about their bodies and about their body hair. Make sure they are comfortable in their own skin. No one has the right to pressure them into changing who or what they are.
Transfer responsibility for body hygiene from you, the parent, to them, the child by giving them support and information and then, respecting their decisions.
About the All-Star Blogger
Paige is the mother of three creative Little Women and enjoys spending time eating chocolate, watching movies, reading for pleasure, creating educational products, and maintaining her blog. Paige has a passion for helping students develop a love of reading. She has been a faculty member at Amelia Earhart Elementary for over seven years. She is a CITES Associates member of the BYU-Public School Partnership and a member of Provo School District’s Literacy Committee. She is an award-winning educator who enjoys mentoring interns and student teachers. You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.