Haircut anxiety… is there such a thing?
Screaming, tears, tantrums and distractions. For some children, having a haircut seems like an unbearable crisis, followed by frustration and exasperation for the parents. Do you recognise this scenario?
Climbing off the chair mid-trim looks like the only way out of this desperate situation. Apparently, there is something about haircuts and grooming that can trigger anxiety and resistance in your child.
Take a look at the tips and tricks we’ve come up with to help you take the tantrum out of haircuts and build confidence in your child.
Where does the challenge come from?
It’s really puzzling for some parents to understand why their child acts so strangely when getting a haircut. Why calm reassurances like, “You are fine. I am being as gentle as I can be. We have done this a million times!” hardly work with children?
One of the biggest challenges for grooming your toddler comes with the need to hold still. It’s as if they’re waiting for the inevitable to happen: “I’m told to sit still, but I can’t sit still so I’ll probably get hurt instead.”
Then there’s the hair salon itself. The plethora of new objects and smells can easily trigger haircut anxiety in your little one. And what about all the noises? From loud hair dryers to the buzzing of razors and the snipping of scissors, it can look pretty daunting to them.
So what can be done?
Fortunately, there are ways to help your child overcome their fear of grooming and learn how to actually enjoy a pampering session at the hair salon every once in a while.
Let’s cut to the chase, no pun intended, and get right to them.
1. Deal with the sensitivities. Start by allowing your child to recognise their sensitivities. Give them words to identify their feelings, and let them know you notice and acknowledge their discomfort.
2. Kid-friendly salons. Look for salons that provide ideal setups for children. We’re talking about the whole package: colourful and inviting environments, novelty seats, DVDs, TVs/Xboxes, balloons, lollipops, haircut certificates and the list goes on.
3. Try haircuts at home. You can do this especially when they are young (they won’t know the difference between a good and bad cut anyway). Also, you can play a few hairdressing games like “practising putting the cape on” or “squirting with the water spray” to help ease their anxiety.
4. A visit to the salon. How about simply visiting the salon before the first appointment? You could ask the stylist to just comb their hair or give a partial trim. You could also schedule the appointment for a time of day when your child will be less tired or hungry.
5. Go shopping together. Take your child to the store with you and let them pick out their favourite hairbrush, shirt to wear as a cape and their favourite nail grooming products. It will help them calm down and decrease frustration.
6. Put on some music. Or in this case… their headphones. Not only do they block the noise, but they can also take the edge off of their anxiety. They can wear the headphones “upside-down” or use earbuds if they prefer, instead.
7. Bring food. Use comfort foods or treats as a distraction to help them get through this challenging time.
8. Relaxation techniques. Think about activities that can help them relax, such as a nice-smelling vanilla cream to put on their hands after trimming their nails, or taking deep breaths before and during the event. It can work wonders!
9. Bring it home. If the salon is too intimidating, you can try a mobile hairdresser who comes to your home. Don’t look at it as a permanent solution, but rather as a temporary way of getting your kid used to the grooming process.
These are just some of the tricks you can use for those sensitive ears and noses. Remember, there’s no need to rush or force them into something they are obviously struggling with. Instead, focus on taking it step by step, one patient tactic at a time.
Good luck and goodbye haircut anxiety!