Some parents avoid talking to their children about lice, worried about scaring their children. But the fear of the unknown is what leads to shame and secrecy. Secrecy leads to the spreading of lice, and shame leads to kids hiding the problem until it becomes a big deal.
Here at LiceDoctors lice clinics, in-home professional treatment, we know that head lice are becoming more prevalent in the United States, because chemical resistance makes them harder to treat. Almost every child will either get lice by the end of school, or know someone who does.
Why Should I Talk to My Kids About Head Lice?
When parents treat lice as a secretive issue, children will naturally interpret this as something to be ashamed of. The stigma associated with lice, from other kids, teachers, school officials, even family members, can cause children undue stress and fear.
Kids who understand how head lice work are better able to avoid situations with a high risk. Even better, savvy kids can identify risky behavior, and feel free to be honest with their parent when they have an exposure, so proactive prevention can be implemented.
The best way to talk to your kids about lice is to do it early. Most cases of head lice occur in kids between ages 3 and 11. Simple education should begin around the age of 3, before your child starts day care, and continue throughout the years they spend in the classroom.
Best Tips for Teaching Your Children About Head Lice
Here are 5 ways to make this awkward but beneficial conversation easier and more comfortable for both children and parents.
1. Start with Simple Questions That Your Kid Can Answer
Asking open-ended questions and listening to the answers shows your child that you care about their concerns, and helps them be receptive to an open dialogue. Try questions like:
- What do you know about head lice? How are they like other bugs?
- Have you heard anything about head lice that makes you confused or worried?
- Who gets head lice? How do they get it?
- Do you know anyone who has had head lice? How do you think they felt, and what made them feel that way?
- How would you feel if you got head lice? What would you do?
2. Avoid Using Complicated Terms
Your young child won't benefit from hearing statistics or Centers for Disease Control guidelines. They don't need to learn about the lice life cycle. A young child won't completely understand terms like "blood-sucking parasite, alive on your scalp" and might inadvertently form negative opinions based on misunderstandings.
Instead, focus on the big picture. Talk about the social aspects of lice. Only get into biology if your child seems genuinely interested. Keep descriptions simple and precise, and communicate them at your child's level. Ask open-ended follow up questions, so your child can reframe the facts in their own words.
3. Avoid Acting Disappointed
While there are steps you can take to prevent head lice, the only way to completely avoid the problem is baldness. When your daughter does come home with head lice, nagging or complaining about it will only make her feel bad and internalize shame. Treating her like a pariah who isn't allowed in the house perpetuates the embarrassing stigma, and isn't even beneficial, since a live louse that falls off the host cannot infest the house.
Your family is a team. When someone gets lice, empathize, support, and take positive action with confidence. If you don't make lice a big deal, then they won't be.
4. Explain That Your Child Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
When a parent loses their calm in the face of lice, their knee jerk reaction can be to assign blame. But like any other typical childhood illness or disease, lice is nobody's fault. Anyone with contact with other people can catch lice, no matter how careful.
Getting lice doesn't mean your child is dirty or has poor hygiene. It's not because their room is dirty. Lice spread by crawling from one scalp to another when hair contact occurs, and they are contagious before symptoms appear.
Sure, our common advice for avoiding lice has to do with having short hair or wearing their long hair up in a bun or pony tail, not sharing hats or brushes, and reducing direct head contact with other kids, but once your child comes home from school with an infestation, it's too late to reiterate this advice. The best way to proceed is to calmly discuss treatment options.
5. Reassure Your Children That Head Lice are Not Dangerous
You child may get scared when she or he learns about the head lice infestation. They may have preconceived notions or just have an inherent fear of bugs. Let them know that they will not get sick from this and that it is very treatable. Explain that like having a cold, they will be better very soon!
6. Tell the Children About the Different Lice Treatment Options
The point in explaining head lice treatment is to reduce fear. Your child should feel safe with lice treatments and checks. Whether you use over the counter chemicals or natural solutions to get rid of lice, DIY methods are rarely effective in a single treatment, since they don't kill the eggs, and a louse or two may survive. Multiple treatments are necessary to remove live lice and eggs. If the process is stressful, it'll get harder every time.
LiceDoctors treatment method isn't dangerous, stinky, or painful. Explain that we're merely going to oil your child's head and lice comb through their hair. The LiceDoctors technician will comb through everyone's hair, regardless of symptoms, to check all heads for nits that aren't yet visible, as head lice are very contagious. We can start with a parent or older sibling's hair, showing other children they aren't being singled out. When little ones see older sister having her hair done, sometimes that's enough for them to line up for their turn.
7. Explain To Your Child That She or He Is Not Alone
Mention that head lice is very common today. Kids like to know that they are not the only ones who have to deal with a problem. You can even mentions that millions of kids get lice each year and that kids who are more social are the ones who are most likely to become infested as they tend to be around other children a lot.
Found Head Lice? Keep Calm and Call LiceDoctors!
Education reduces fear and helps your child stay lice-free. But ineffective or rough treatment can still induce lasting stress around the issue.
Lice clinics and services exist so you can get the appropriate treatment the first time, before head lice becomes a scary big deal. LiceDoctors services are an effective solution for handling lice treatment in a calm and confident way.
Contact LiceDoctors professional lice clinics to book an appointment for effective lice treatment, and make this a positive educational experience instead of a stressful one. You and your child will both be glad you did!