The Truth About Toddler Haircuts

Last week I had to do one of my least favourite parenting tasks – taking Ollie to get his hair cut. It’s a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Him, me, the hairdresser, people waiting….even random people passing by on the street. That’s right, last week he screamed so loudly that not one but 2 separate people actually stopped on the street outside to look in and see what was happening.

This wasn’t his first haircut and it wasn’t the first time it’s happened. In fact, the last time he went it was so bad the hairdresser had to stop half way through, so he’s been wandering round with half a mullet for the past 3 months. We decided to just let him run wild for a bit but as he stopped being able to see without having his hair pinned back, I thought it was time to brave the hairdressers again.

I thought I did everything right. I picked a new salon, a quiet, friendly one which had kids books and toys to entertain him while we were waiting. We’d even watched the Small Potatoes on CBeebies get their hair cut the day before and Ollie thought it was hilarious. I’d already bribed him with the promise of a Kinder Egg if he was good and we’d talked about how it’s not scary and doesn’t hurt. We got there a little early and he sat and watched a man having his haircut. He seemed genuinely interested and even asked the hairdresser what she was doing. She showed him the scissors, the brushes and the clippers and he was fascinated. Brilliant I thought, we’ve finally cracked it. I’m going to be able to go home smug and tell my partner I’ve no idea why he’s complained about the past couple of trips to the barber. Then it was our turn.

Ollie sat in the chair, the hairdresser put the gown on him….touched his hair and he screamed like he was being tortured. We tried everything to calm him down – she let him touch all the different combs, he sat on my knee, she pretended to cut his teddy’s hair, I tried distracting him with videos on my phone but not even Paw Patrol could help this time. We eventually managed to persuade him to let her cut a tiny bit at a time but he was NOT happy about it. When he was finally finished, he jumped down, laughing and smiling and said ‘I get my chocolate eggy now?’….I mean seriously kid! Thankfully the hairdresser was very understanding but it was still embarrassing and also pretty upsetting to see him so freaked out. Unfortunately his hair grows ridiculously quickly so I don’t think it will be long before we have to go back.

So, I asked a few fellow parenting bloggers for their tips and tricks on toddler haircuts for next time:

Georgina from Gee Gardner suggested – ‘Let them practise with them with dolls etc. Let them help cut their hair and just make it super fun! Take a toy with them who could have a hair cut too. Failing that, let them look like heathens until they can’t see for hair.’

Pete from Household Money Saving says he uses bribery – ‘I promised my eldest daughter a trip to the toy shop when she had her first haircut. You could see she was really nervous throughout, but she didn’t want to give up that toy! I’ve found with all 3 of my kids, once they get past that first haircut, the rest are generally much easier.’

Kerry from Money Saving Journeys had this same problem with her eldest – ‘He used to scream and cry the whole time. In the end I bought some clippers and started doing it myself at home. We used to put a favourite DVD on. He still wasn’t keen but was a lot more relaxed and I could take my time (I’m no hairdresser so it was just basic). Then one day, about a year later, we were walking by a barbers and he stopped and watched someone having their haircut through the window. He asked if he could have his haircut so I took the opportunity and we went there and then! He sat there as good as gold and we never had a problem again!’

Eva from Captain Bobcat  – ‘I let him play on my phone and the promise of a surprise egg combined just helped mine through his first hair cut at 4 years. I’ve talked about it beforehand and started a few days before to get him used to the thought.
It worked out well but before this I had to cut his hair myself. I guess now he’s old enough to understand.’

Clare from My Money Cottage – ‘We’ve been through this recently with our two year old. We asked in our local Facebook group and people recommend another barber who’s more child friendly. He’s been there twice now and loves it! He sits in a racing car and drives while he’s having his hair cut and thinks it’s great fun.’

Lisa from Pass The Prosecco Please – ‘Bribery. I’ve had to promise a new car or something to get him through the first few, now he is fine. I’d really suggest finding someone who is friendly, that makes such a difference. Everything is so new to them, after a few times it gets better and they learn to enjoy it as much as we do.’

Linda from Mother Distracted  – ‘Pick the right hairdresser – and it might not necessarily be yours. Ours has a specially adapted chair with a steering wheel and a teddy on and keeps soft toys for the kids to play with – and a lolly jar to dip into if they behave. I would also see if you can find a mobile hairdresser who will do their hair at home.’

Donna from Bobsy’s Mum  skipped the hairdressers and did it herself – ‘When Michael was little, we lived on our own, and I just couldn’t handle the trauma, so I used to shave his hair (like an 8, not super short!) myself and let him watch TV and eat chocolates while I did it. Perhaps the hell of this experience made the hairdresser seem better because he’s never minded!”

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