My daughter had talked about getting her ears pierced for a while, and we discussed what to expect. When she turned five, we felt she understood what the process would be like and truly wanted it done. So, we made the appointment and looked forward to the big day.
While we basically did everything “right,” a year later, her earrings had to be taken out, and we’re waiting for them to heal before she can get them pierced again. It’s been a roller coaster, to say the least. So, when should kids get their ears pierced? I don’t have an answer, but (spoiler alert) I kind of wish we had waited.
On the day of our appointment, she woke up excited and ready. She put on one of her favorite dresses, some mismatched leggings, and her high-top sneakers. She felt happy, confident, and ready. We walked into the tattoo shop and were greeted with a clean, comfortable space and friendly faces. She was asked by the piercer if she was ready, and she nodded fiercely. She picked out a pair of rainbow post earrings and sat in the big chair. As the piercing was about to begin, she whispered the words, “I don’t want to do this.”
I was a bit perplexed. This girl is usually confident and brave – and we had been talking about this for a long time! But the piercer assured me this was completely fine and happens frequently. So, we thanked them and promised to return when she was ready.
My daughter was immediately talking about it again (literally just an hour after our failed attempt), but we waited a few months. When we went back, she went through all the same steps as before, but this time – she went through with the first piercing! Whew. As I was breathing that sigh of relief, she uttered those familiar words, “I don’t want to do this,” right before the second ear. It took a lot of talking and convincing, and so many questions about what to do went through my head that day. “What happens if she truly won’t go through with getting the second ear pierced?” “Having her consent to the piercing was extremely important to us – how does that apply now that we’re halfway done?” “How long do we keep this piercer waiting as I talk her through this???” We were thiiiiiiiiis close to walking out of there with just one ear pierced, but eventually, she agreed to follow through. I thought the hard part was over.
Even after the drama, she walked out of the tattoo shop with a huge smile and told everyone she came into contact with about her newly jeweled ears. However, after a few months, her ears seemed to still not be healing. We’d done all of the cleanings a new piercing required. We’d waited ten weeks before changing them out. She’d kept her hands away. We were doing everything “by the book,” but figured her ears just needed some more time.
She’d received dozens of pairs of earrings as gifts and liked to change them out often (of course, all by herself) to match each ensemble. We decided that because they were taking so long to heal, we needed to pick out one pair and just let them be for a few weeks. So, she picked out a pair of glow-in-the-dark white clouds and left them alone.
But one evening, I noticed one of her ears, and the earring looked like it was hanging a bit low. Because the earring was a cloud shape, I figured it was just sitting funny, but I asked her to take them out so I could get a closer look. As I’m looking at her ears, it looked like there was a path where the earring had literally slid down her lobe. I was thinking to myself, “Can a piercing actually move?” It turns out, yes. Yes, they can. It’s called piercing migration. I’d never heard of it, so I Googled and Googled some more.
As I researched and felt completely overwhelmed with mom guilt about how I let this happen, I learned that piercing migration is when your body rejects the piercing and views the foreign object as a threat to your health. Even a perfectly placed piecing that is properly cared for can be rejected if your body doesn’t want it there. It’s a slow process that can take weeks or months, so it wasn’t something we immediately noticed. I reached out to our fabulous piercer to confirm the next steps. Our plan is to keep the earrings out, apply Vitamin E daily to minimalize scarring, and eventually consult with our piercer again if/when we’re ready. Apparently, you can attempt to re-pierce the same area, and steps can be taken to hopefully have a more successful outcome.
Our roller coaster experience isn’t something most families experience. Piecing is fairly safe and typically uncomplicated. But things can happen, as it did with us. I think five years old was pushing it to be emotionally ready, and she didn’t have any awareness that something like this could happen. Knowing my daughter, she’ll want pierced ears again at some point. But we’re in no hurry and waiting patiently for the right time.
If you do decide to get your child’s ears pierced, a lot has changed from when we were kids. For one, tattoo shops have become widely accepted as the superior option for piercing children’s ears. Professional piercers go through a lengthy training process and utilize medical-grade equipment, increasing the chance of a well-healed piercing.
Additionally, these professional shops have become welcoming places for families, with piercers gaining reputations for being extremely good with kids and ensuring they have their consent. Here are a few local places I frequently see recommended:
Carmel TattooINK (Carmel)
Indiana Tattoo Company (Carmel)
Ink Therapy (Plainfield)
Irish Ink Tattoos (Mass Ave, Greenwood, Greenfield)
Midwest Tattoos (Indianapolis)
Perception Body Modification Studio (Greenwood)