Easing the Fear of Haircuts

My first haircut was done by my grandfather, a barber by trade. But as I got older, I went to the beauty salon with my mom. I always enjoyed the experience — especially having someone wash my hair — but not every kid does so well in the hairdresser’s chair.

There are plenty of kid-focused salons out there, where stylists and staff go out of their way to make parents and kids feel more comfortable about the hair cutting experience. Here are some tips from a local kid-focused salon here in the Portland, Oregon area.

Tip number one: watch what you say, and how you say it. Saying things like “it won’t hurt” can actually plant the suggestion that a haircut might hurt! Try instead to say something positive, like “it will be fun” or “it will feel good.”

Tip number two: talk to your stylist about your concerns. If your child has had a negative haircut experience before, say so! If a specific part of the process makes your child nervous, let the stylist know. The more you open up, the better the salon staff can serve you and your family.

Tip number three: be flexible. Don’t push your child beyond his or her limits just because you’ve already got the appointment. Have a back-up plan in case a haircut just isn’t possible on the day you’re scheduled. A kid-focused salon will be generally understanding about needing to change your appointment if your child can’t handle a haircut for whatever reason.

Tip number four: be willing to walk away while your child is in the chair. Some children are reassured by the sight of a parent or family member while they are in the stylist’s chair. Some children may act more negatively if they have a parent in sight. Taking a step back might help things go more smoothly.

And here’s a tip from me: if your child is old enough, they may feel better knowing what’s happening, and what each tool does. The stylist may be able to ease fears by talking through each step of the haircut before they do anything. (This trick works well for me as an adult when I’m going through a procedure that makes me nervous, like a pelvic exam!) It may also help for the child to be able to see and handle each tool before it is used on their hair!

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