Do you want to see your son in a dashing undercut? What about long layered waves for your little girl? However much it may suit him, a haircut may not often be your child’s favourite activity. In fact, haircuts can make for a difficult experience.
To a two or a three-year old toddler, getting a haircut can be a fairly new and, more importantly, a scary experience. Most toddlers are known to shrink in fear at the sight of scissors; they may even start crying and screaming when the haircut begins. There is no specific age at which the first haircut happens. Sometimes, it is at the age of two, and sometimes even as early as two months.
“Taking Faith for her first haircut was a hair-raising experience, literally! She began screaming and crying non-stop. We had to abandon the haircut and succeeded only at the third attempt at cutting her hair,” says Catherine Dequadros, a copywriter and mother of a 3-year-old girl.
Vinod M, one of the hair stylists at Affinity International, Bengaluru, says it is a challenge to cut children’s hair, especially that of toddlers. The combination of new surroundings, new faces and cutting tools like scissors combine to make your toddler cranky.
Affinity International has devised some methods to ensure the experience is a smooth one for toddlers as well as parents.
1) Try to calm your child first
You could make him sit on your lap during the haircut, if he does not want to sit on the chair. Tell him that this is an adventure and get him to brush his hair so he is comfortable with new objects touching his hair.
2) Promise a reward
Tell your child that if she sits through the haircut, you will buy her a toy or treat her to a sweet or ice-cream.
If you are nervous about the experience yourself, your child will sense it and become more agitated.
4) Fix an appointment
Ideally, schedule the haircut in the morning hours or after a nap and when your toddler is on a full stomach, so he is rested and less cranky.
More ways to make haircut fun for toddlers
Set a routine
Children get used to routines. If you take your child to the barber every few months, he will be familiar with the process.
Go to a kid-friendly or a children’s hair salon
The salon should be well-equipped to deal with children. This includes fun things like toys, screens displaying kids’ movies and most importantly, stylists who know how to work with children.
Keep distractions ready
Children are restless in new places. Given something to eat, they may be distracted and sit still for some time. Non-sticky foods like crackers and chips could do the trick. You can also carry her toys or download her favourite cartoon on your phone to engage her.
Name the equipment
Imagination is key to keep your child hooked. Use fanciful names for the hair-cutting tools, e.g, call the clippers, ‘Mr. Buzz’ or the hair dryer, ‘The Wind Warrior’ and watch him calm down.
Check if the stylist is experienced
Cutting a child’s hair requires nerves of steel and a lot of patience. Completing a haircut on a restless child requires expert hands.
Praise your child
Encourage him during the haircut. You can bring along his favourite toy or talk to him in soothing tones to let him know he is not alone.
Make the process a quick one
Your toddler may not have the patience to sit through a haircut. Make sure you explain to the stylist about the style preferred beforehand.
If the sight of the salon with mirrors and cutting equipment makes your child nervous and excited, fix an appointment with a hair stylist to come over to your home and do the haircut. A familiar surrounding might help.
Plan carefully and practise these tips to make hair cutting a fun experience for your toddler.