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Tips for a Tantrum-Free Kids Haircut

BY: Editors | Nov 29, 2017

It's hard to know who dreads a kids haircut more—the kid or the parents. Truthfully, the experience can be hard on everyone, especially the stylist, who's trying their best to deliver a great haircut while also doing everything they can to make a nervous child feel at ease.

We wanted to know if there were any tried and true ways to offset that nervousness—and maybe even get kids to look forward to their next appointment. So, we turned to four professional hairstylists to get their tips and tricks for a truly stress-free haircut for kids. And, because they have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, they also shared a few things they wish parents wouldn't do before and during their kids haircuts.

Kids Haircut Don'ts:

Don't bring a cheap doll and ask the stylist to cut its hair.

Apparently a lot of parents think this will convince their child there's nothing to be afraid of, but stylists pretty much hate it. ""Handling too many things can get kids agitated," said Idania Santiago of Rock Hair Scissors. Lindsey Van Housen, hair stylist at Hair Cuttery in Chicago's Greektown neighborhood agreed. According to her, doll hair is brutal on a stylist's shears, so unless you're supplying the scissors, leave the doll at home. "Or tip me an extra $200 to replace the shears I just ruined," she said with a laugh.

Don't let your kid hold real (or fake) scissors during the appointment.

"As a stylist, I don't want the child holding a weapon, fake or not," Lindsey said. "But it is pretty common for us stylists to have little knick-knack toys to play with." Just in case they don't, though, bring a toy that your child already loves—or something they don't get to play with often.

Don't give your kid a tablet or phone to watch videos on.

None of the stylists were crazy about this idea. Though it's not impossible, it can be difficult to cut hair when the client's head is bent downwards. Reserve this option as a last-ditch effort or try another mom's spin: "selfie-video" the haircut. Some kids are mesmerized by seeing themselves on that tiny screen!

Kids Haircut Dos:

Do visit the salon before the haircut appointment.

Idania makes this suggestion to every client. Visiting makes the child more comfortable in the environment of the salon, and they can watch other kids' haircuts so they know what to expect.

Do bring treats.

"YES! YES! YES!" Lindsey said. One of her regular clients feeds her child M&Ms throughout the haircut. Since it's the only time he gets them, he sits nice and still for candy time. "Candy bribery is the best," agreed Abby Mazer of Sejour Salon. (Of course, it's meant to be a rare, quick fix, not a precedent to set for every irksome task.)

Do stay consistent.

Seeing the same stylist as often as possible is important to building trust and comfort, said Jeremy Tucker of Chicago's Pickle's Playroom. This way, you're not starting from square one with every haircut, and your child may start to think of appointments as an opportunity to visit a friend. "Parents tell me their kids actually ask when [they'll] get to see Mr. Jeremy," he said.

Do give the stylist some space.

If the stylist asks you to step back, respect that—they know what they're doing. "If you have to keep moving to get out of my way, that's a problem", said Lindsay. Sometimes, parents might even have to stay out of sight completely. "You have no clue the number of kids who settle [down] as soon as mom and dad are gone," said Abby.

Do get your hair cut too.

Lindsey has noticed that boys love getting their hair cut alongside their fathers. "Seriously, at any age, the kid loves it. A little father-son bonding time is good for everyone."

Do know when to give up.

Flailing, crumpling to the floor, glass-shattering screeching—Jeremy has seen it all. "If the kid's really freaking out, you might just have to come back later," he said. Lindsey chimed in with a more colorful image: "This kid is kicking us and spinning their head like [in] The Exorcist, and you want me to give [him] the David Beckham haircut?"

Especially if the child is too young to reason with, parents should consider postponing the haircut until they're a little older. But you're not entirely out of luck: "We can recommend ways for you to style their hair in the meantime," Lindsey said.

Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, location courtesy of Pickle's Playroom.

This article was originally written by Groupon staff writer Aimee Algas Alker in 2015. It has since been updated.