Haircuts are often an intimidating experience for toddlers. Getting my two-year-old son a trim at the barber was as stressful as receiving a round of shots at the pediatrician's office. After months of tears and trial and error techniques, however, I learned some effective ways to make toddler trims an enjoyable experience for both of us.
Set up a salon in your home
Kids love to engage in imaginary play. Construct a pretend barber shop or beauty salon in your house. Place a smock around your child and spray his/her hair with water. Since young children may assume a hair "cut" causes pain, use plastic play scissors to show how gentle it feels. Add a dab of hair gel for boys or sparkled hair spray for girls to finish the look. Finally, give your toddler a little mirror to admire their new "do."
Give a practice haircut
Once your child is comfortable with the hair cutting process, try a practice run at home. If you feel comfortable giving your child scissors, buy an inexpensive doll so your child can practice cutting. Allow your toddler to cut the doll's hair as you cut a small lock of your child's hair. If your toddler is too young to use scissors, snip a lock of your own hair before attempting to make the first snip on your child's hair. If your child breaks down in tears, don't worry. Simply put the scissors away and introduce the scissors at a later date. As your toddler gains exposure to trims, the resistance will gradually decline and his/her interest level will increase.
Find a "kid-friendly" hairdresser
If your child feels comfortable with home cuts but you are "scissors challenged,” try taking your child to a professional. When my son was a toddler, we took him to a salon that catered to kids. Children could sit on a carousel horse, watch movies, and relax with a lollipop during their haircut. One time, my husband even joined in on the fun. Although my six-foot-four spouse looked pretty silly on the merry-go-round, it made our son feel more secure to see daddy was getting his haircut, too.
Even if your toddler continues to cry, try to stick with the same hair dresser for several visits before trying someone new. While the horses and television shows were appealing to our son, ultimately it was the familiar, fun-loving hair dresser that helped him conquer his fear. Once children trust their hairdresser, their tears will surely turn into giggles and smiles.
Most importantly, remember a simple haircut to you is an unfamiliar experience to your child. While it may seem silly to adults to fret over a simple trim, try not to ignore your toddler's fears. With the proper techniques and lots of encouragement, your child will see that toddler haircuts are fearless and fun.