A Problem Shared: Haircut Havoc


A Problem Shared Parenting & Family Advice | by | 31st Mar 2017

Young boy crying while having his haircut for Haircut Havoc APS

What do you do when you child hates having their haircut? That’s the problem Dan is having with his son who dislikes the barbers. Do you have any advice for this week’s A Problem Shared…?

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Hi FamilyPoint,

My 5-year-old hates having his hair cut. He basically has a meltdown the entire time we’re in the barbers. I’ve tried different hairdressers. I’ve brought mum along. I get my haircut at the same time to show him it’s a normal thing. What else can I do? It’s getting embarrassing, do I give in and let him have long hair until he calms down?

Dan, Wrexham

Our FamilyPoint Advice to Dan

Hi Dan, 

Thanks for getting in touch with us here about your son’s haircut fears. It must be really upsetting to see him getting so angry and distressed every time you take him for a haircut but believe me you’re not alone. Many, many children react in the same way.  

From what you’ve described you’ve tried a few different things with him to try and improve things but to no avail.  

Try to find out what upsets him so much

Have you tried talking to your little boy about what upsets him so much about having a haircut? 

Is it the scissors… how they look and sound? Also remember, we tell young children to stay away from scissors because they are dangerous. Then we make someone use them right next to our child’s neck, ears and throat… perhaps he’s just scared he’s going to be hurt?

Does he not like all the unusual smells in the hairdressers? Some of us as children and adults can be far more sensitive to smells. Hairdressers can often smell quite potently of chemicals. 

Smelly chemicals in hairdressers may be the problems - haircut havoc

Perhaps he doesn’t like being fussed over by people he doesn’t know? Not all children do and it can be very unsettling. 

Is it the chair he has to sit in? Is it uncomfortable or perhaps he’s scared being so high up in the air? 

Does he not like the feeling of the cape around his neck? Again, some of us are more sensitive than others… some people feel very uncomfortable having something so high up on their neck. 

Perhaps he doesn’t like looking at himself in the mirror, seeing all the hustle and bustle of people he doesn’t know looking back at him? 

It could be one of these things, a combination of them, all of them or of course none of them but it might be worth having a conversation with him when he’s calm about what causes him to dislike having a haircut so much.

This fear will probably pass in time. 

Of course, this fear will probably pass in time. Leaving his hair grow longer until that time could be an option.  

However, if you do want to work towards improving your son’s experience at the hairdressers here are some hints and tips! 

#1 Choose a child friendly hairdresser

Some are definitely better than others… speak to other parents for recommendations. Then, once you’ve found someone your son is happy to have cut his hair by, make sure you book an appointment with that specific hairdresser every time. If they are any good at their job they will build a relationship with your child making the experience more and more enjoyable for him. 

#2 Think about not using the word ‘cut’

This of course is a negative word which your son could associate with pain. Use the phrase ‘hair trim” instead. It sounds far less scary! 

Avoid the word cut

#3 Try role play

Just as you would doctors, firemen and so forth – get some colourful play scissors and a cape and take turns at being the model. Also get other family members and your son’s friends involved too. 

#4 Watch videos of children having their haircut

YouTube must have thousands! Remember to watch them yourself first though. Just as you should with even safe looking Peppa Pig videos

#6 Try using a mobile hairdresser

Your son might be more comfortable having it done at home rather than in a shop. 

#7 Try clippers instead of scissors

Ask the hairdresser to use hair clippers rather than scissors if the latter is a cause of concern for your son.

Provide a distraction for Haircut Havoc article on FamilyPoint

#8 Plan with another parent to go at the same time to have your children’s haircut

This is because peer pressure can often be more effective than parental persuasion.

#9 Provide a distraction for your son whilst he’s having his hair cut

A good hairdresser will be happy to work around a snack, video, book, or favourite toy. 

#10 Plan a special treat for straight after his hair has been cut

Whilst having a haircut might be a treat for many of us, it obviously isn’t for your son, so rewarding him for being such a ‘big brave boy’ is only fair. 

Anyway, I hope at least some of these suggestions are of help. But remember, if not, time will solve this problem. Worst case scenario, you might just have to get used to having your very own long haired surfer dude for a while. This has to be better than all the anxiety a haircut causes both you and your son 🙂 

If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.

I hope this advice has been helpful. Good luck.

The FamilyPoint Cymru Team


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Cover Photo Credit: greychr Flickr via Compfight cc


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