When the word ‘haircut’ comes to mind, for most parents it’s the thought of a traumatic experience filled with anxiety for both child and parent.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel and trust me, you’re not the only one with a kid who hates haircuts! Here are some tips towards stress-free kids haircuts.
by Pam Waring-Baker, Director of Giggles & Scissors
Your child doesn’t have to have a sensory processing disorder to dislike haircuts. 90% of boys will experience the ‘haircut freakout’ and, in my experience, it can be due to a number of reasons.
The environment in which the haircut is taking place can play a big part. Is it noisy? Is it new? Is it the smell? In a perfect world, wearing the cape will eliminate the itchy sensation of hair falling on them; if they sit still it will be over so much quicker; and if they need the clippers, it is a safer and quicker way to cut. However the cape is foreign, watching scissors being waved around their head in the mirror is scary and the clippers sound like a mac truck in their ear!
Here are my six tips for having a more successful and less stressful haircut experience.
1. Choose a child friendly salon
Try finding a salon that has a quieter time slot without the onlooking judgmental stares. Generally, avoiding big shopping centres helps. Some salons also have special seats just for kids, DVD players or even a gated play area so that the other kids can be kept occupied so you can focus on the one getting their haircut.
2. Bring a familiar part of home with you
Taking along a towel or painting smock from home that is familiar to your child and wrapping them in this instead of the cape can not only help calm them, it will also keep the hair off them.
3. Avoid very short haircuts if your son doesn’t like the clippers
Try sticking to the scissors for the first few haircuts to start with, and face them away from the mirror.
4. Distraction and positive reinforcement
An iPad or portable DVD player may distract them enough to sit still and ignore what is happening around them, although you may need to move the screen around so that the hairdresser can get to all of their hair. A reward for getting through the haircut can be a great motivator too. It doesn’t have to be big – a sticker to stick on their shirt or a favourite lolly is often enough.
5. Use visual supports
Visual sequences (like this one here) and stories about going to the hairdresser are a great tool for kids who find the whole process overwhelming or anxiety inducing. You can go through the visuals at bedtime for the few days, and use them as prompts during the haircut.
6. Use a mobile hairdresser
Alternatively, a mobile hairdresser is a great way to go until you have all of these fears under wraps. Being in a familiar environment can make a big difference and can lower your stress levels too.
Bottom line, your child might just not like haircuts and the younger they are, the more likely this will be the case. They don’t understand and it’s just down right inconvenient to a 18month old to sit still! Taking all of these things into consideration should help on the journey to a stress free hairdressing experience. Whatever the case, there will be moments where the hairdressing process is not so bad and you can relax.
Pam Waring-Baker, Director of Giggles & Scissors. Specialising in Mobile Children’s & Special Needs Hairdressing, Giggles & Scissors was founded in 2009 by Pam after working in London at a boutique children’s salon. Pam was inspired to provide a service in the family home which would help change the experience for parents and children to a better one. Pam now works with local Queensland schools to educate parents and assist the community with making haircuts fun. You can find them on facebook here.