When are children old enough to have piercings?

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Check if there are any rules at your school about piercings. Most allow a stud earring or piercing but some can be stricter. It is worth checking this out before you make your decision. Is it just a phase or has your child been asking to get a piercing for a while?

“I just wanted my daughter to be old enough to take responsibility, keeping her ears clean after the piercing, being careful not to catch her earring and hurt herself that kind of thing.”

“My son asked to get his ear pierced at 12, but didn’t push it when I wasn’t sure whether to let him. I thought it might just be a whim so waited to see if he’d ask again. He mentioned it a few times so finally at 14 I took him to get his ear pierced. He saved up his pocket money to get it done to show he was serious about it.” 

Talk to friends

Ask other parents what they have decided. You may not agree with their decision, but equally it may help you decide what age you agree to let your child have piercings.

“I let my daughter have her ears pierced when she was 9. We went with a friend and her daughter so they could have their ears pierced together. We decided to take them at the beginning of the summer holidays so they had the time off school to clean their ears and learn to be careful not to catch their studs.”

Be aware of well meaning relatives. Your child may pester a grandparent, aunt or stepparent who may not be aware of your feelings towards the subject. For most parents we spoke to, mums seemed to take a lead in this decision, but it is always worth talking to your partner about the issue so it is a joint decision. If you do decide to allow your child to get a piercing make sure you choose a reputable jewellers. If you decide your child is too young, but want ideas of how to tackle the pester power here are some tips…

  • Explain why you have made the decision to give your child a better understanding of why you won’t change your mind. But don’t allow this to slip into an opportunity for your child to try and negotiate with you.
  • You could tell your child an age you would be prepared to let them have their ears pierced. Alternatively you could give your child a goal to reach before you let them have their ears pierced e.g. I need to know you are grown up enough to look after your ears and clean them, if you can show me you can keep your bedroom tidy for a month I will let you have them done.
  • If you have your own piercings talk about what age you had it done. If it was earlier than you will allow your child to have it done explain why you thought it was a bad idea.
  • If your child’s school does not allow any earrings or piercings to be worn you can explain that the piercing may just close-up as they will have to take it out for school. Offer an alternative. There are some great high street alternatives like magnet and stick on earrings and piercings. 

Ensuring the piercing is safe

Whatever the age, if your child is getting a piercing, ensure you find a reputable, licensed body piercing shop or piercer. Most local councils keep registers of approved piercers who have passed hygiene and safety standards, and who are regularly inspected by health and safety officers. You can find more information about what to look for in a safe and licensed piercing shop on NHS choices website. 

Age restrictions

According to the NHS website there is no legal age restriction on most body piercings, but performing genital or nipple piercing on someone under the age of 16 could be considered an offence. Some local authorities and piercing businesses may have their own regulations concerning age limits and consent for body piercings.

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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