As parents, we dread taking our little ones into the hair salon for haircuts when they shriek and cry hysterically in fear of the scissors. Here are some tips from actual parents and professional kids’ hair stylists to make the experience a more enjoyable one for the children - and their parents!
· “Cuts versus Trims” - Let’s start with easing the fear. Don’t call it a “haircut!” Kids associate the word "cut" with pain. Tell them they're getting a "trim" instead. Maybe bring your little one to your own haircut appointment so they can be reassured that getting a trim is not bad but actually a fun experience. Or practice with a stuffed animal at home, pretend to trim the stuff animal’s hair.
· “Do your Research” - So you have done your research and have found the perfect salon and stylist. For the big day, it would be ideal to book the appointment for a time when they are well-rested like first thing in the morning or right after a nap. Or go to the salon a little earlier than the scheduled appointment so your child has some time to get acquainted with the space and the hairstylist. The salon might have some fun toys or a train table for them to enjoy.
· “Sweeten the Deal” - Now your little one is in the salon chair or maybe one of those fun car chairs. You can put a show on your smart phone for your little one to watch if the salon does not have a television. Don’t forget to bring a favorite toy, food/drink or mention that afterwards they can enjoy a special sweet treat like frozen yogurt or a lollipop. Some kids might enjoy having bubbles blown to them or perhaps asking the stylist to cover the mirror so they are not over-stimulated. A promise of a reward like a special little toy might be just the trick for some kids while some may need lots of encouragements (“You are such a big boy or girl!”, “Good job!”) during the trim. Some may need even more TLC and will need to be held by the parent in the chair. Or for those who are sensitive to the trimmers, a parent can press lightly on their inner ears to ease their discomfort.
· “Tough Love” - You have tried everything and your sweet little angel is still squirming at the slight mention of a trim perhaps, it’s time to call in for reinforcement. Maybe the babysitter or a favorite relative/family friend can take them in for their hair trims. Some kids do better when the parents are not there. Or maybe, it is time for tough love. We need to tell them that they have to accept haircuts regardless of their desires. It needs to be done. If we baby our kids too much, it can actually encourage tantrums in the way we respond to them.
· “The Waiting Game” - You have exhausted yourself in trying everything and nothing worked. Simply, they are not ready or perhaps it might be time to check in with the pediatrician. One parent shared that her child’s reaction seemed too over the top. The 4-year old child screamed like a maniac during the hair trims. The child was later diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction and after six months of occupational therapy – haircuts and other things become a little easier.
By Mindy Wei, mother of two and owner of Sharkey’s HAIR IT IS in Belmont where haircuts are enjoyable for the entire family! They have car chairs with TVs, X-boxes, a tween lounge/glamour party room and a main salon area for the adults.