As sure as the sun rises, if you have a child with long hair, at some point they will get something unholy stuck in it. At different times, my daughter has had play doh, slime, red clay mud, Elmer's glue, and gum all stuck in her hair. How it gets in her hair is an absolute mystery, but I've gotten really good at getting it out. The most common sticky situation is gum. Who doesn't love a Blow-Pop, right? Well, it loves them back, and sticks around. You need to know how to get gum out of your kid's hair, because just cutting it out would leave a strange bald patch on your child's head.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) instructed parents to put creamy peanut butter on the gum, wait a while, and then pull the gum away. This is a much better solution than the car grease my grandfather slathered onto my head like I was so much steel and roller bearings, because I smelled like a Jiffy Lube for a week. Smelling like a sandwich doesn't seem all so bad in comparison. Apparently, the oil in the peanut butter causes the gum to seize up and harden, allowing it to be pulled from the hair.
Let me be completely honest with you right now. My 8-year-old daughter has a lot of hair. It's straight, and thick, and hangs past her shoulders. She loathes wearing ponytails outside of school, and refuses headbands most of the time. This means that we are getting something out of her hair each day. A quick note to parents, if your kids get sticky rice or sushi rice in their hair, get it out right away, or it hardens into a block. It's not pretty.
I can remember four separate times I've had to remove gum from her hair, and twice for my son. With great confidence, I can tell you that the hardest gum to get out is the stuff on the inside of a lollipop. I don't know if its the sugary candy that gets mashed into it, or the makeup of the gum, but it is candy scented superglue in hair.
The internet has tons of "solutions" to get gum out of hair, from toothpaste to brake cleaner (yikes!), but I am here to tell you that there are only three options that work, and that won't make you mad as a hatter when you do them.
The first way is my favorite, and that's ice. First, have your child lie down on a towel. If the hair is long enough, place ice on the hair, and wrap with saran wrap to hold it in place (this saves your fingers the frost bite). After about five minutes, if the gum is stiff, remove the ice, and pull away the hairs a few at a time. The hair should pull away cleanly. You don't even need to shampoo after, making it my favorite method by far. However, this is not the best on short hair, as it is too cold for kids' scalps. (They will whine endlessly about the cold.)
The second method is olive or avocado oil. I hear coconut oil works, but that is lotion in my household, and there is no "drizzle" capability. Pour your child back on the towel; this time, a crappy one. It's about to get greasy. Now, have your child lie down on the towel. Separate as much hair from the gum as you can, and then drizzle the oil over the gum, focusing on saturating the hair near the gum. Again, wait a few minutes, then drizzle again. The gum will pull away from the hair, but your child will now smell like a salad. Off to the bath with them. (This is the best method for short hair.)
The last method I don't love because it uses alcohol. However, it really works. Put a high percentage isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle. Make another spray bottle of water. Lay your child down, and pull the hair far away from the skin. Holding your hand over the nozzle, protecting your child's skin from the spray, saturate the hair on the gum. It pulls away immediately. Once you get it out, spray the hair with water, because it will smell if you don't, even if you shampoo, in my experience. It's the same ingredient in hand sanitizer and most hairsprays, but it really stinks. Also, be very careful, as Fairway Health notes that while most kids aren't going to shove isopropyl alcohol in their mouths, it can be dangerous on the skin as well.
Honestly, though, when my kid got gum in my hair, I soaked it in lemon scented hand sanitizer from the drug store and it came right out. Whatever you do, don't reach for the scissors! You can use multiple methods to get it all out. Slime, on the other hand...