A child’s first haircut is a rite of passage for some and a nightmare for others. It can be a challenge to convince your little one to sit still and have a haircut. So, the big question is should you force them to get one when they resist?
Can a parent force a child to get a haircut?
Parents should not force a child to get a haircut. They should act on behalf of their children and in their best interests and forcing them to do something that does not directly affect their health or wellbeing can have a negative impact on the child and parent’s relationship. Instead talk to them, explain why we have haircuts and what the benefits are. You can always leave it a day or two and then bring it up again if your child is especially nervous or unsure about getting a haircut.
Why is cutting hair so emotional?
For many parents their child’s first haircut can be a bit of a tearjerker. Your little baby can look all grown after their hair is cut for the first time and it can feel like a lot of change all at once. And then it keeps on happening, every haircut changes the way they look and children already grow up quickly, as we all know. It can be a lot to process!
For an older child their hair style is a part of their identity and they may be attached to it. Therefore, the idea of getting a haircut might bring about some sadness or other emotions as the way they look changes.
Why do some children hate having their haircut?
Lots of children dislike being messed with. It’s the same way for many children when you dress them, put their coat on or clean their face. For some children getting a haircut is just the same, they simply don’t like being bothered and having to stop what they are doing. Add in the fact that some children get nervous in new places with people they don’t know and getting a haircut can be overwhelming.
Other children may have developmental challenges that lead them to dislike being touched or be in new environments.
How do you convince them to get one?
Here are some suggestions to convince your child to get a haircut:
- Try a mobile hair stylist and get their hair cut at your home where they feel more comfortable.
- Promise them a treat after they have a haircut. To some this might seem like bribery but to most parents this is called making it work!
- Let them choose a TV show to watch while they get a haircut.
- Explain the reasons why we get a haircut such as to stay cool, to keep hair out of our eyes or to avoid tangles.
- Let your child know that you get haircuts too and perhaps even let them watch you or a sibling get a haircut if it is practical to do so. This way they know what to expect.
How do you get a toddler to sit still for a haircut?
First things first, find the right salon. Ask for recommendations or advice from neighbours and friends for a family friendly place where the staff are familiar (and comfortable) with cutting children’s hair. The right person can make all the difference. The way an experienced hair stylist talks to, responds to and even cuts your child’s hair will help.
Some practical things to try are:
- Give them a snack
- Allow them to watch a TV show or movie
- Hold their hand
- Make it fun – find a kid-friendly salon. Some have car shaped seats with steering wheels and others have cheerful designs on the wall for example.
How can you calm them down?
Talk to them in a calm voice and let them know you are there to support them. Ask them what is making them upset or nervous and answer those questions the best you can. Take a break if need be and give them a hug or let them take a walk for a minute or two. Once they have calmed down, try again to finish the haircut.
How often should a child have their haircut?
There is no rule here on how often a child should have a haircut. It is up to you and your child to decide together. It all depends on you both, their style and how their hair grows. Talk to them and keep an eye on their hair as it grows and you will have a good sense of when to visit the salon.
What about teenagers? Why won’t some of them get a haircut?
Teenagers are busy determining their own identity and figuring out who they are. Part of that process is deciding how they look, as it forms a big part of discovering their sense of self. Teens might not want to get a haircut because they like the way their hair looks and don’t want to change it.
How can you encourage older children and teenagers to get one?
First of all it is worth asking yourself why you want them to get one. Do they truly need one or do you just prefer their hair to look different? Then, be honest with your child. Perhaps they need a haircut to meet a school requirement or it might be because their hair is hard to manage as it is with their lifestyle. Talk to them and help them understand where you are coming from.
If that fails, and it is important that they get a haircut, it is time to resort to similar persuasion techniques you might try with a young child. That means incentives and support.
What can you do instead of cutting your child’s hair?
You can try new hairstyles for your child’s hair. This can help with hair management and minimise tangles or keep it out of their face while they play sports for example. You can also test out different hair products to combat any issues they might have with their hair such as shampoo to help with tangles or a special brush.
It is important to be honest and supportive of your child when it comes to getting their first or fifteenth haircut. It will become a regular part of your child’s routine after some time and they will get used to visiting the salon.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.