When my son emerged into a toddler, he sprouted gorgeous blonde curls which people always commented on, including the not-so-funny quip: “Oh, did the postman also have blonde curly hair?” as my husband and I were brunettes with straight hair (now grey, owing to more years of parenting, I assume).
His golden curls bounced wherever he went and they were never unruly or wild – I used to condition and brush his hair regularly, and we loved his signature fro.
Until the day I came home from work, and I saw my toddler napping on the couch, something amiss. I gasped as I saw all his hair had been cut off. Our helper then happily declared that she had lobbed off his curls, as she had somehow assumed that I thought he was old enough to have a haircut (or in this case, a crooked buzzcut).
My tears fell heavily as I imagined his trademark locks earlier in the day. I was upset that the choice to cut was – in error – taken away from us, and that my little boy no longer looked like my “little boy” but more grown up, which I did end up loving (after some more tears and carbs for comfort).
My big little dude was unfazed by his new look, but when I took him to the hairdresser a few days later to neaten his cut, he was neither prepared nor happy about the experience. I had to buy a Very Very Big Lego set in order to get him to sit still for a few minutes while the hairdresser trimmed his hair under immense pressure.
He was so scared that he wouldn’t repeat the experience for about two more years, despite promises of more Lego, so we had to trim his hair while he slept. It was a fairly good method, even if it did look more like a home effort than a professional one, similar to what his hair has looked like for most of the pandemic – a little skew.
With my second child, I was a bit wiser. I not only communicated that no one was allowed to cut her hair, but when it was time for a trim (my fringe cutting isn’t so precise), I prepared well. I took her to my hairdresser, which suited us at the time, but I know a lot of parents who love taking their children to kids’ salons as they have entertainment like games and TVs and child-friendly seats and equipment.
If you’re looking to avoid a hair-raising experience when you take your little one for a cut, here are some tips.
By now you probably know that your child can sniff out your fear, and act on it. A haircut is a big deal, but it’s also not – don’t make it something bigger than it is. If you’re stressed, they’ll likely be stressed too. Try to treat it like a fun activity, and not something that needs a huge amount of bravery from them.
Prepare them before you go
Don’t spring it on them to avoid any drama beforehand in the hopes that they’ll be pleasantly surprised when you arrive. Start talking to your toddler about getting their haircut, and what they can expect before, during and after.
To get them comfortable with things, brush their hair while they sit on your lap. You could also brush your hair too.
Take toys to distract them and give them comfort
Whether it’s an iPad with videos (no judgement here), a simple activity or a comfort bear or blanket, take it with. These will not only provide a distraction, but some familiarity too.
Ensure they’re fed and rested
Don’t take a hungry or tired child to the hairdresser, and pack some snacks and water in case they need them.
Get your haircut or a sibling’s hair cut first
This might not always be practical, but it might help if your child sees that a haircut isn’t painful.
Turn away from the mirror
Some children might not like seeing themselves and the scissors coming towards them.
Bring extra clothes
Some hair might stick to your child’s top, which could be irritating, so bring a replacement in case they need relief.
Whether it’s a high five, a small treat or a video call to Granny to show off their cool new haircut, praise your child for having it done – even if there were some wobbly moments. And a reminder… if you’re sentimental or have a memory box for your child, don’t forget to take some hair as a keepsake.
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