Kids & Haircuts: The Long and Short of It


Have you ever taken your young child to get a haircut and left more frazzled than you arrived?

You, my friend, are not alone.

The process of getting a cut can be kryptonite over-stimulating to the little ones. It can also be mind numbing and nerve racking for the lucky grownup who gets to check this mighty task off the day’s to-do list.

In a former life, I was a hairstylist and during those years behind the chair, I saw several types of parents, but there are a few that left a lasting impression.

  1. The Drill Sargent. This type of parent will hold down the child at all cost. They take the job of helping the stylist to the extreme. They show no mercy to nonsense or slow cutting. Sometimes the Drill Sargent parent can actually make both the child and the hairstylist more tense with their overbearing desire to get this haircut accomplished..
  2. The Passive (Aggressive) Parent. This parent seems super sweet at first by leaving it up to the expert and saying, “Do whatever you think would be best.” But at the end of the haircut they express their true desires of wanting 3 more inches cut off after all. Two haircuts for the price of one. Fun for all! See, I can be passive-aggressive, too.
  3. The Micromanaging Mother. This mom has an eagle eye and an opinion about everything. She will make sure the hairstylist knows what to cut when, particularly when she misses a spot. She leaves the hairstylist wondering why she didn’t just cut the child’s hair herself since she knows the ropes.
  4. The Weekend Warrior Dad. This guy leaves the house feeling in control and determined to get things done… until the hairstylist asks him how he would like his child’s hair cut. No clue.

There were also a few stand-out types of kids.

  1. The Screamer. Sometimes The Screamer starts by announcing his presence upon arrival like a baby entering the world for the first time. He has been here before and remembers that he must scream in this place. On the flip side, there is the on-the-spot screamer who plays it cool until the moment comes to actually cut the hair. The sight of capes and scissors and clippers turns the child into a miniature Civil Defense Alarm.
  2. The Noodle Neck. This tends to be a girl with long(ish) hair. With every single stroke of the brush, she will simultaneously release all control over her neck muscles and go limp. Her whole head moves with the brush making a straight cut next to impossible.
  3. The Edward Scissor Hands (aka The Grabber). This little guy (or girl!) is too curious for his own good, grabbing at the clippers and scissors like they are made of plastic. He must come from a home where all the things are child proof because he shows no fear for the blade, and manages to slow things down by reaching for the fun looking sharp toys.
  4. The Wiggle Worm. This is pretty much every child after the first 15 minutes. Hairstylists expect wiggling from their tiniest patrons, but combining any of the first three personality traits with the wiggling is just a recipe for disaster.

In order to achieve the best possible haircut for your kid, it is really a matter of teamwork between the stylist, the parent, and the child. Everyone must do their part to make it a good experience all around. As kids grow older, the salon visit difficulties fade and it builds good experience after another.

  1. Confirm that the chosen hair stylist is comfortable cutting kids’ hair. When you find one you like, become a repeat offender. Your child will benefit from the consistency and foundation of trust.
  2. Make sure that your child is well rested and has a full belly. Swinging by the salon before lunch for a quick trim is a no-go.
  3. Know what you want and describe it clearly. Hairstylists are not mind readers. Communicate exactly what you want.
  4. Be prepared to help the hairstylist. Letting the stylist know that you are willing to help with keeping the child still or holding a hand or head when needed goes a long way. It may even be necessary to have your child sit in your lap if that makes puts the little one at ease.
  5. Do whatever you can to help ahead of time. If your child has tangled hair down to her tail, it is a good idea to spritz some detangler on it and run a brush through the mop before entering the salon. It will speed up the process and probably cause less whining (from all).
  6. Take your child’s temperament into consideration when decided on his or her haircut. If your young boy is terrified of loud noises like the clippers, maybe opt for a scissor trim until he overcomes that fear. If your boy can’t sit still for anything, maybe let him rock a buzz for a while. If a haircut already seems like torture to them, why make it worse?

If you are still troubled by the occasional haircut, just remember that this season will pass. They will not be little and terrified forever. All too soon, they will grow out of the fear and into arguments with you on why they need a purple streak in their hair.

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Erica Baumer was born and raised in Memphis and currently resides beyond the suburbs in the rural town of Rossville. She married her high school sweetheart and together they are parents to Savannah (born September 2008) and Lincoln (born April 2013). When this full-time working mom is not on the job or chauffeuring her two little darlings around town, Erica enjoys bubble baths, Netflix marathons, and eat cookie dough. (If you don’t think those are hobbies, try doing all three at the same time!) Her greatest parenting advice is to be yourself and encourage your children to do the same. Live outside the box, color outside of the lines, and remember that big messes often make bigger masterpieces.