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Q&A

"My Toddler Gets Hysterical When She Has Her Hair Cut"

Question:

My one-and-a-half-year old daughter absolutely dreads to have her hair cut! When I bring her to the salon, she clings to me and bawls. Is there anything I can do to calm her down?


It's understandable for a toddler to feel anxious during haircut time. To your child, being wrapped in a plastic cape, surrounded by unfamiliar sights and sounds, squirted with water, and attacked with a pair of sharp scissors or an electric shaver by a stranger is just plain scary.

Toddlers don't like surprises so preparing your child is important to help her be mentally ready for the experience. Have your child watch you get a haircut or visit her hairdresser before the big day. Talk to her about what she's seeing. Go through with her the sequence of events – for instance, point out the cape she'll be wearing, what the scissors or shaver does, and explain that "we're going to make your hair look nice." Avoid using the word "cut", which may scare your child – use "trim" or "snip" instead.

Trying pretend play at home can be helpful too: Together, you can pretend to trim her favorite doll's hair with your fingers or let your child play with a squirt bottle during her bath time.

On the day itself, let your child bring a small toy to help keep her hands occupied. It's a good idea to book your appointment between mealtime and naptime, so she isn't hungry or cranky. If she won't sit still, you may need to plop her down on your lap for the duration. You can also bring along a treat in your bag for afterward.

Lastly, it helps a great deal to get an experienced child-friendly hairdresser who knows how to handle squirmy clients and put them at ease for the session. There are many children's hair places that provide videos and books to keep little kids entertained. You can ask your stylist to recommend someone who's especially good with kids.

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