Too young for an ear piercing?

Play it by ear: A child's maturity in being able to manage an earring and infection is a factor in getting ears pierced.

Helen O’Callaghan hears two sides of the argument on earrings for young girls.

AT what age should a girl’s ears be pierced? Is three years old too young? Feelgood asked members of parenting website, www.eumom.ie for their opinions.

One mother said it’s cultural: “In Spain, they do it in hospitals as soon as they’re born. I’d rather do it when they’re young, as they manage the pain better.”

A mother whose 10-month-old daughter had her ears pierced said the child didn’t cry. “I wanted to do it while she was small, for practical purposes — no anxiety, less painful, no fiddling with them while they healed. I didn’t choose tacky earrings, but opted for small gold posts.”

Another waited until her daughter’s first birthday. “I had them done using dual-piercing — other than one bang, which startled for a few seconds. There was no screaming.”

Others saw it differently. A mum who works in A&E said she has seen “a fair number of young girls coming in with the back of the earring embedded in the ear, because they’re too young for earrings.” Her girls won’t be pierced until they are teenagers.

Others said: “My four-year-old can’t cope with a snotty nose, never mind a pierced ear”; and “my daughter’s three and asking for her ears to be done, but I’m not doing it. She’s also asked for a pet unicorn”.

One mum said wait until the child can decide for herself and is able to do the after-care.

Emily Manning, content editor at www.eumom.ie, and mum to four-year-old Matilda, says be aware of infection-prevention. “How do you explain this to a young child?” she asks.

Psychologist Kate Byrne, mum of seven and director of Attachment Parenting, says a tasteful pair of earring is acceptable for a nine-year-old.

“But it’s very difficult to explain to a three-year-old: ‘I know you want pretty earrings, but someone’s going to have to shoot them through your ears, it’ll be sore, and you’re going to have to care for them everyday’. A three-year-old isn’t responsible enough.”

For Byrne, the question comes back to a discussion between parents and child, when the child’s old enough to understand.

“If the child’s not capable of being involved in the decision, there’s no reason for ear-piercing.

“At this age, it can be more about parents perceiving ‘oh won’t she look cute,’ rather than about rights of the child,” she says.

TIPS

¦ Suggest child waits a few months, in case request is a result of peer pressure.

¦ Does your child understand what’s involved?

¦ Is she capable of doing the aftercare?

¦ What’s her school’s policy on earrings?


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