Almost 2 years ago my son decided he wanted to grow his hair to donate it to children with hair loss. He didn’t like that he saw girls being the ones to donate when he knew he had gorgeous hair. He informed us that he was growing it to donate. I want to share some hair donation tips for kids. I also want to share an honest look at what hair donation looks like for boys.
Hair Donation Tips for Kids
I can only speak to our experience on this. You may have a different experience when it is your turn.
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Preparing your hair to grow
Before starting to grow hair for donation, make sure to get a good trim. This will keep the hair healthy as it grows and makes it a better gift for those making the wigs.
Get as much of it even as possible. – While layers can look fabulous they aren’t necessarily helpful in a hair donation situation. Instead, try to get the hair somewhat even. This will give the person cutting the ability to take as much hair as possible.
Be ready for a long road. – On average hair grows about half an inch a month. Most hair donation companies require a minimum of 8 inches of hair for donation. Others will ask for as much as 12-14 inches.
Teach kids WHY they are growing their hair. – Many children will volunteer to grow their hair without knowing the full story behind it. Help them to understand on some level, the impact of hair loss, reasons why a child might struggle with hair loss, and help them to know their why for when people ask.
Teach your children how to care for their hair. – This will include proper washing, what not to put in it (Gum, candy, slime), and not dying the hair. Many places will not take dyed hair.
What to expect when growing hair to donate
Your experience may vary depending on whether you have a boy or girl growing their hair to donate. I only say this because girls with long hair at a younger age are more socially acceptable and so there won’t be as much of a response.
Be prepared for commentary! – People will have a variety of things to say. Be prepared. My son was called a girl, told to get a boy haircut, and told it was a thing only girls should do. He had to learn how to stand up for his choice and let some things go. We had more than one conversation about who he is and why someone else’s opinion of him is not bigger than his motivation to do this.
So how do you handle negativity?
My son dealt with some real negativity. It wasn’t just that he was called a girl. It was more than that. He was constantly told to hang it up and let the girls do it. It would have been easy to cave in but I am a strong believer in equipping children to stand for their convictions. Here are a few things to do to help your child stand up for themselves:
1. Help them to identify the good things about themselves. Have some fun looking at some of the things about themselves that bring them joy. Are they kind, smart, fun to be around? Help your child to see these things so that they can stand on their identity instead of the words of others.
2. Equip them with things to say respectfully. – It can be hard to keep things respectful when faced with a situation you aren’t prepared for. Give your child things they can safely say to counteract the negativity. For my son, this had a lot to do with reminding people of why he was growing his hair.
3. Give them a safe space to be upset. – No matter what they do, they are bound to be upset by some of the things that might be said about their decision. While I wish this wasn’t the case, it is. Give them a safe space if your home where they can share their hurts without you belittling it.
Your child may change their mind. – This is a long process and children may not always understand a two-year process. Because of this, your child may decide they don’t want to do this anymore. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if your child changes their mind:
1. Find out why it is their choice. – Sometimes the weight of it is too much. Sometimes they just don’t want to have long hair anymore. Sometimes it’s hot.
2. Is there a solution that would help them keep going? – Could you do a ponytail to get the hair off their neck? Is it the opinion of everyone else that is influencing their decision to stop? Look at the reasons why they want to stop and see if it is something you can help them to overcome.
3. Don’t shame them for changing their mind. – If your child wants to stop, it is their body and their choice. Let them cut their hair and move on knowing they tried and they can come back another day.
Preparing for hair cut day for donation
Pick up your supplies before the hair cut.
You will need certain things before you go in to get the child’s haircut done. Here are the things I recommend:
- Hair Rubberbands – I recommend 3 of these per ponytail you have cut. Some places will divide the hair into more than one ponytail to be sure to get the most hair possible.
- Ziploc Bag – You will need to bag the hair after it is ponytailed and cut.
- Pic of a new haircut. – Prepare for this big day by finding a shorter hairstyle that will work when it is haircut day. Bring along a picture for your stylist so they can make sure to cut your ponytail with enough length to allow for the cut your child wants.
- Padded envelope – Many of the donation locations prefer a padded envelope to protect the packaging when it goes out.
What did donation day look like for us?
Check out our video for a look at our donation day. We had an amazing time and we are so happy about it!
What happens after the haircut?
I am writing this the day after the donation day. One of the biggest things my son is struggling with is a fear of people not knowing who he is. Many people know him with long hair and he was concerned that people wouldn’t know him anymore. We have had to start all over again with conversations about identity.
I am incredibly proud of him and hoping he will start to see that about himself as well.
So what happens to the hair?
The video below helps to explain what happens from hair cut to wig gifting.
Have you ever donated your hair? Leave me a comment and let me know about your journey.
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