Your child needs a haircut but you delay making an appointment. Your hesitation is not so much of a time issue as it is one of angst. Often parents dread taking a small child to the hair salon. The crying and tantrums can make the experience miserable for everyone. As a family hair salon owner and mother of two, I would like to offer 5 tips to ease your child’s sensitivity to haircuts and make the experience more pleasant for everyone.
1. Use different words. Instead of a “haircut” say, “We are going for a trim today.” Kids may associate the word “cut” with pain. Try bringing your child to your own haircut appointment. This could reassure them that getting a trim is actually a positive and fun experience.
2. Do your Research. Find the salon and stylist that seems to be a good fit for the family. For the big day, it would be ideal to book the appointment for a time when your child is 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 he/she has some time to get acquainted with the space and the hairstylist. Ask if the salon has fun toys or even a train table.
3. Sweeten the Deal. Now that your child is in the salon chair or maybe one of those exciting car chairs, ask to tune the TV to a favorite program. If the salon doesn’t have one, use your smart phone. Some children enjoy having bubbles blown to them during a haircut. Items to bring include a favorite toy, snacks and a beverage. Offering a special sweet treat like frozen yogurt or a lollipop is another option. Ask the stylist to cover the mirror so your child is not over-stimulated. Offer encouragements (“You are such a big boy/girl!” or “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 lightly cover their ears to ease their discomfort.
4. Ask for Help. If you’ve tried these tips and your child is still squirming at the slightest mention of a trim, perhaps it could be time to call in reinforcement. Maybe the babysitter or a favorite relative/friend can take them in for their appointment. Some kids are calmer when the parents are not there.
5. Wait. You have exhausted yourself trying everything, and nothing worked. They may simply just not be 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 during the hair trims. The child was later diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction and after months of occupational therapy, haircuts and other things became a little easier.
Best of luck and happy trimming!
Mindy Wei is a mother of two and owner of Sharkey’s HAIR IT IS in Belmont, providing haircuts for the entire family.