Not all children are afraid of getting their haircut and the truth is, you really don’t know how your child will react until the time comes. And then, you never know how it will go as they get older and go through different phases. In 30 years of cutting kids’ hair, we have seen and heard it all and it seems to me that when a child is afraid to get their haircut it falls into one of 5 general categories. Below is the list, along with strategies to help bypass the issues. A little planning in advance goes a long way. It’s the reason I opened the salon in the first place; to create a fun environment that kids (and their parents) would actually look forward to going to, instead of dreading it. Of course, not all people are able to come to our salon, so these tips apply to everyone, everywhere.
WHERE AM I??
It can be a little scary for a child to walk into a totally unfamiliar environment and then sit in a strange chair to experience an entirely new activity.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
If you can bring your child to the salon to walk through and see other happy kids a few days before, that can help to familiarize them so that it won’t feel so new on their big day. Of course, if you have the opportunity to bring them to a kids’ salon, that is always the best option. The 3 most important things you can do to help your child are DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION! Going to a salon that is set up with little cars for them to sit in and videos, toys , balloons, bubbles, and lollipops to distract them is always optimal. If you can’t visit a kids’ salon, bring your own distractions. A tablet, toy or snack goes a long way!
WHO IS THIS PERSON TOUCHING MY HEAD??
Even for an adult, it can feel awkward to have a stranger so close and personal. It’s not unusual for children (and adults) to take some time to warm up and accept a stranger. It’s something that we as parents actually teach our kids in order to protect them. Don’t talk to strangers!!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Similar to the above advice, try and stop by the salon and let your child meet the stylist in advance. Then you can speak about the stylist by name in your home to familiarize them with the name. Depending on your child’s age, you can even play “home salon” and make believe you are that stylist. Another option is for your child to sit on your lap during the haircut. That way they feel more secure surrounded by your support. Lastly, and most importantly: DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION. That’s always worth repeating….
WHAT IS THAT NOISE AND WHY DO I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE??
Sensory issues are probably the most common cause of fear in kids’ getting haircuts. Common culprits are the sounds & vibrations of the clipper, water from the spritzer, the feel of the cape covering their clothes, the feel of the hair falling on their skin, the sound of the scissor clipping, the blow dryer noise and wind, along with many more small things that as an adult wouldn’t even register in your mind.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
At Cozy’s, we have lots of little tricks to address each different issue. For example, we will say “here comes a little rain” and spritz the child’s hand before spraying the water on their hair, or introduce them to “Mr. Wind”, the blow dryer. We often skip the cape if the child is resistant and recommend to parents to bring a spare t-shirt along to change into after the haircut.
Also, showing the child the clipper and then turning it on to hear the noise is a lot less surprising for them then just going right into the haircut. Sometimes we even find that covering the mirror so that the child can’t see themselves getting the haircut is helpful. And of course: DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION!
AREN’T SCISSORS VERY DANGEROUS???
We are always teaching our kids to stay away from scissors because they are sharp, and you can get very hurt. Now, suddenly, they are in an unfamiliar place with a stranger touching them, holding a sharp instrument, often using the word “cut” which is once again a word we are always using in a negative way. “Be careful not to touch that or you may cut yourself”.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Try to avoid using the phrase “cut your hair” and replace the word cut with trim or style. Obviously, this strategy depends on the age of your child but in my opinion the best game plan (at the risk of being repetitive) continues to be DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION, DISTRACTION. I think it’s the secret to parenting in general!
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE MY HAIRCUT??
Obviously, this issue is more common for older kids and isn’t any different to the way we feel as adults. We all know the feeling of a haircut that has gone awry, and we all have the same concerns and fears.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
Clear communication is key. This strategy is helpful for everyone, not just kids. Be sure to discuss the game plan with both the stylist and your child to make sure that everyone is in agreement. Additionally, be very specific. Don’t’ just ask for a trim but let them know how much of a trim (i.e., 1 inch please). If you ask for 2 inches cut off, have the stylist show you and your child what 2 inches will look like. Whenever possible, bring a picture of the style you are trying to achieve (a link on your phone works perfectly). As they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”…..
My last words of wisdom, honed from many years of experience in addition to being a parent myself, is to try to relax and enjoy the experience. Kids can sense a parent’s stress a mile away and this can only add to their own apprehension. Of course, if you have any questions, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!