O.k., would you tell me if I was crazy and coming from out in left field? (Hold your answer. That was a rhetorical question.)
Here it is...
In the last two days, I've come to realize that I have very strong opinions when it comes to cutting a small person's hair. I know what makes sense to me when I approach a child to cut his or her hair. Watching someone else in the salon cut a child's hair yesterday and then again today made me realize that not everyone apparently shares my views. Their way included sitting the child (of maybe 1 year to 18 mos. old) in the chair and begin clipping away. Mom stands nearby. Cue child howling. This was punkin's first time haircut.
I was tempted to howl myself.
I feel strongly that a haircut should not be a traumatic experience.
And the kid shouldn't be traumatized either.
Here's a rundown of how I like to do it:
I think that if a child seems unsure, then it's important that mom be as close as possible even if it means she holds him/her in the chair on her lap. If they don't want to wear the cape--toss it aside.
Show the child the comb and how it works. Introduce the spray bottle and show them how it sprays. Show them how it rains on their head. Hand it to them and let them spray the mirror. If they aren't interested in that, show them a toy you have stashed. (I have a drawer with a few kid friendly trinkets for just such an occasion. Kids who have been coming to me awhile head straight for it before climbing up into the chair.)
Cut the hair that is presented to you, asking mom to turn the child around to make the back of the head more convenient. Move with the child. Asking them to be still (when they are rather young) is pointless. They have no concept.
Using trimmers on young boys can be tricky. The noise can be a little disconcerting but when I show them how they work, they seem a little better about it. When they get older, I let them push the button to turn on the trimmers. I tell them the trimmers are going to kiss them and we count---1,2,3, and KISS. We are done.
This method has worked well for me and I hardly ever have an inconsolable child. I just about won't cut their hair if they seem really upset and/or scared.
I do have a couple of child clients who have special needs. They both have autism. The younger one actually was calmer and successfully distracted when he stood by a window playing with some cars on a chair. With the older child we worked out a routine where she put on one of our color robes in lieu of a cape and we told her she was a princess. She would vocalize loudly at some points, but her parents would remind her of her reward after her haircut and she would settle down.
You know, now that I think about it, cutting hair for a child is not a whole lot different than cutting hair for an adult client:
Assess the client.
Consider his/her needs and desires.
Do your best to meet their expectations.
Roll with it.
Thanks. I feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest.