Kids and Hair
I have often been asked by parents what they can do to make a hair cut better for their child. I have compiled a list of top tips which will stand you in good stead for a visit to the hairdressers. Your child's first experience is very important. Get it right and you should have a tear free experience going forward, get it wrong and it can become a very painful task for parent and child for many years to come. A bit more time spent upfront will pay dividends in the long run!
1. Pick a child friendly salon
Try and pick a salon that welcomes children. Many do not like cutting children's hair and will often refuse. Speak to friends and family to find one that has the time and patience to look after your little one.
*Important note about 'head lice'.
2. Speak to the salon
Let them know if it is their first ever hair cut or if you know they don't like having their hair cut. Don't just keep it to yourself because you are worried what they might think. If the salon knows in advance they will often book more time out in case the appointment runs over. You will also discover if they are happy to cater to children or not.
3. Practice at home
Get your child prepared for the visit.Either by playing role plays at home; "Hey, would you like to brush mummy's / daddy's hair ?" Get a mirror and say "Wow, what a wonderful job you have done". You could even pretend to cut hair with your fingers. Do they have a doll or toy with long hair? Kids that have never had their hair cut before are sometimes scared, "what do you mean she is going to cut my hair!"! Cut usually means pain. Either cut a bit of your own hair in front of them or get them, with your help to cut their dolls hair". Reassure them that getting a hair cut is not painful. You could also get books, like Charlie and Lola's; My Haircut Sticker book. Give the impression it will be fun not a drag, children can sense these things! Tell them they can have their favorite treat if they go and get their hair done.
4. Choose the best time
Choose a time that works for your child. Don't bring them in when they are tired, sick, hungry or have just been to the dentist! Pick the time of the day and week that is best for them. Also speak to the salon to understand when they are most quiet. Saturday is not likely to be a good day for their first hair cut! If you have more than one child don't take them at the same time until you know that they are both fine with the experience.
Bring something to entertain your child. Books, toys and games, whatever will distract them. The usual hair salon copy of New Idea magazine is unlikely to engage them!
6. Confirm the appointment
If possible confirm the appointment with the salon before you head out. There is nothing worse than arriving and discovering they are running 30 minutes late.
7. Get to know the stylist
The stylist should spend some time chatting to your child at the beginning of the appointment. It is imperative that they trust the stylist and are happy for them to touch their head. If they charge straight in, your child is more likely to panic, squirm and move. Hair salons are scary places for a child. Noisy hairdryers, loud voices, people rushing around, a strange person lurking over them. Give them some time to adjust and settle in.
Take your time and be patient. Most stylists have a busy appointment book and will be worried if things start going wrong that their next appointment will have to wait. This will only make things worse. Slow things down, take a break, go for a little walk around the salon, watch Mum having her hair brushed or Dad playing with the blow dryer.
9. Take charge
You are the parent and you know your child better than anyone. If the stylist is doing something that you think could be done better then tell them! They will often be relieved for the help.
10. Get involved
Unfortunately hair stylists are not miracle workers. You cannot drop them off and head to the back of the salon to enjoy a coffee and a magazine. Your child will feel safer if you are around and are more likely to trust the stylist as a result. For many children they will only endure the experience if they are sitting on their parents lap. As such be prepared to get covered in hair and dress accordingly.
11. Never restrain your child
If the experience is going badly it is easy to think, I am here now and let's just get it done, but please don't hold them down! The next time you mention the word haircut they will immediately start to panic. If you have tried everything and they still won't sit still then abandon and try again another time. Spending more time on point 3 may help for the next time.
12. Know when their time is up
The stylist should cut the hair how you tell them. However, if for some reason they don't or the hair cut isn't particularly good, don't get them to re-cut it. More often than not your child will be bored and restless by this point. Tell the stylist you aren't happy. If they have made a mistake they should offer you a free cut the next time. If you have changed your mind on how you want their hair to look then tell them for the next time.
13. Rewarding the stylist
If you are happy then tip the stylist as you would tip your own stylist. They are more likely to want to cut your child's hair the next time and go the extra mile for you.
14. Rewarding your child
If you feel your child has been particularly good then give them a reward at the end. They are likely to sit even more still the next time. However if they have been bad and won't sit still then don't give in and reward bad behaviour!
The most important aspect of getting your child's hair cut is the stylist. If they take their time and get to know your child then you are more likely to have a painless experience. In my career, I have seen many children who had previously encountered very bad experiences but were absolute angels for me. Parents stand back amazed, relieved and enormously grateful! The majority of times it is just down to the stylist playing with the child first, speaking to them and gaining their trust. After that they just need to be quick. Children get bored very quickly!
Back to 'Kids Corner'