I love cutting kid cuts! Kids are wonderful, hilarious, tiny humans. Now not all stylists enjoy this particular type of clientele. Kids can be hard. They move around a lot, they scream, they cry, you end up cutting yourself more times in one hair cut than in 2 years, etc. But let me explain some things about the world of kid cuts.
Since kids are tiny humans they have bad, stressful, emotional days like we adults. The difference is we adults have learned over the years that we have to do things we don’t like on these hard days & we’ve learned to find things to help make rough days better. We adults have far more coping skills than a 4 year old. For a lot of adults going to the salon or spa help make the rough days one million times better. This is not typically the same for kids. In fact we stylists know that 9 times out of 10 a trip to the salon after a hard day at school for a child is the last straw. We see the fit throwing battle a mile away and it takes a toll on us. We understand your child needs a hair cut. But forcing a child who is in the middle of a mental breakdown into a chair to get a hair cut is ZERO help. The following tips are things that I as a stylist have learned and put to the test to help with the stress of a child’s cut. These tips are great for stylists and parents!
- PARENTS please find a stylist that enjoys kid cuts. If you have a stylist you see on a regular schedule ask him/her if he/she enjoys kid cuts. If he/she does not enjoy the service ask for a recommendation. Do not make your stylist cut your child’s hair if he/she does not prefer to do this service. Typically your stylist as hard as he/she may try to put on a great game face will still give off a subtle vibe or nervousness or dread that your child will pick up on and the tantrum will more likely follow (think of how your printer smells when you are in a hurry and decides to take it’s time and break down multiple times before finally printing the 2 pages you need).
STYLISTS please be honest with your clients when asked about kid cuts. If you do not prefer to do them, then express that. There is no need to go about a service that is going to stress you out. It’s ok to recommend a stylist in your salon (if you have one) to your client for the kid cut service. Your client will respect your honesty and you don’t have to worry about stress and disappointing a client. Very professionally and respectfully say “Kid cuts are not a service that I personally do, But my co-worker Tina is GREAT with kids! I highly recommend her for your child! When I get a chance I will set up a consult with you and Tina to talk about your child!” This conversation between Tina and the client can happen during a process time, or if need be a different day. It’s ok to refer. If you are a stylist who only cuts and does not color, you wouldn’t attempt a color on a client that has never had color would you? No. You would refer to someone in your salon. And that is okay!
- PARENTS when you find the right stylist for your child (remember this does not have to be your stylist nor do you need to change stylists because of your child), keep making appointments for your child with that stylist! Kids usually start getting their hair cut around the time of the Stranger Danger talks. You’ve been having the Stranger Danger talks now for a bit, and then boom you are taking your child (who you have told to not run with scissors to a stranger (who plays with scissors for money). Most parents take their child to a new stylist/salon every single time they need a cut. This can cause stress as they have never been to these salons so its a strange place, with strange new people, and very strange sounds. When you find the right stylist that your child likes getting your child to the appointment will be easier. “Little Johnnie, in 2 days we are going to go see Mrs. Kari for your hair cut!!! Aren’t you excited?!” Seriously, this is important! Little Johnnie gets to know Mrs.Kari and then starts looking forward to the once stressful event as a much needed relaxing, fun experience!
STYLISTS be cheerful! Be understanding that this child is going to be a little fearful. They don’t know you. They may have had a terrible experience in the past (being cut, being yelled at, etc). Be as understanding, cheerful, and fun as possible! Before we got our new mirrors with lights them at the salon I work at, I would wet the child’s hair down with my water bottle, turn the nozzle to a hard stream and allow them to spray the mirror. THIS GAME IS A GAME CHANGER! SERIOUSLY! Kids love it! And your mirror gets cleaned, as well as the floor! When we got our new mirrors, I decided I would turn them slightly and allow them to squirt my Doctor Who Pop Figurines (nerdy I know, care I do not) that I keep on the windowsill. The Pop Figurines are also a great conversation starter. I get a lot of “Who are those guys?” I explain, conversation flows, and the child is more at ease. They also are wonderful to let the child hold and play! I’ve also for regular clients have made a little “gift bag” for kids. I’ve printed off coloring pages, made those “time out” water bottles (they are pretty, kids like to shake them and watch all the glitter glow-n-flow). These are just tips for you the stylist, and parents to try! Remember how you feel when you are meeting a new doctor (nervous, wondering if the new doc will listen, be nice, & not treat you like a down payment for their new indoor pool) when seeing a child for his/her first hair EXPERIENCE with you!
- PARENTS Costumes are amazing! First off find a costume (past Halloween costume for example) of a princess, prince, character, whoever/whatever your child is fangirling/fanboying over and either change them before the appointment or at the appointment in the bathroom. This does so many things. One: when it is something that can only be worn at the hair cut appointment it will make the child feel more comfortable being in something that makes him/her feel like a super hero/princess/their best and it associates the two things together. Iron Man costume = hair cut with Mrs. Kari= less negative feelings and more positive feelings because I the child am the GREATEST AVENGER! The costume also acts like a hair cutting cape. Keeps the hair off your child. Capes can seriously make or break an appointment. I can not tell you how many times a parent has MADE their child wear a hair cutting cape when the child did not want to and the fight that ensued. If your child does not want to wear a hair cutting cape DO NOT make them. Either do the costume idea, or bring a change of clothes. Seriously it is not worth it. NO ONE wins. NO ONE!!!
STYLISTS if the child comes in with a costume talk to them as their character. THIS WILL MAKE YOU 5 TRILLION TIMES MORE AWESOME! ALL THE BROWNIE POINTS WILL GIVEN TO YOU! Seriously. Try it. If the child does not come to the appointment with a costume, suggest/ask about not wearing a hair cutting cape to the parent. I also will ask the child (the children are tiny humans with the capability of answering). I have a child client who sometimes wishes to wear the cape, and some times wishes not to depending on what type of day he has had. Whatever makes him tolerate me more on his terrible day is fine with me.
- PARENTS talk to your child during this time in a calm voice. Do not stress. Do not yell. If you reserved the appointment weeks ago, your child is now in no mood for the cut, you know it won’t go well, reschedule the appointment. Seriously. Your stylist will not be upset. We typically reserve no more than 30 mins for a kid’s cut. If you call and explain the situation to the front desk or stylist it will be no big deal. Your stylist will be relieved that you did not put him/her through Dante’s 8th circle of hell, and will be able to sit, eat, or pee (or all 3 depending on the day amirite?) for 15-30mins. Your stylist may have had something happen and is running behind and you rescheduling relieves some of that stress. Don’t fret over it. Just reschedule the appointment on another day that works best for you, your child, and stylist.
STYLISTS if a parent is stressing, annoying your tiny human client, ask them to sit in the waiting area. I have a child client who comes in with dad and I cut both of their hair. Dad typically sits in the salon with us no big deal. One day child was being terrible. Dad caught on and said “I’m going to wait in the waiting room since he’s mad at me and won’t be good for you. Come get me when you are ready.” Sure enough, the boy stopped acting out 2 seconds after his father left the room. The son was in fact upset with his father (the son was about 6 at the time), and was acting out, and not sitting still to anger his father. If you’ve being cutting a child’s hair for a while now and see a behavior pattern, nicely ask the parent to wait elsewhere, and then strike up a conversation with the child client. If the parent calls and says “I’m sorry, I’m going to reschedule Little Johnnie’s appointment because he is in a terrible mood and no one will win.” Know that the parent probably feels terrible about this. DO NOT make it a big deal, after all you get to have lunch/empty your whole bladder/sit/relax (whatever that is) cut foils that you haven’t had time to do for that tight full head foil client with hair down to her knees, etc. Take the time to meditate.
- PARENTS & STLYISTS talk to the child like an adult. I don’t mean talk about the Kardashians but don’t baby talk the 5 year old. Seriously. I have found that kids hate this. Kids are hilariously sarcastic at the of 3 or 4. Talking baby talk to them is just a mood changer. Kids will respect the stylist more when talking to them as an adult. Ask how their day was. “What are you doing this weekend? Would you like to see pictures of my new puppy? What movies do you like? What’s your favorite football team? What video games do you like?” I have observed that when stylists ask the child how he/she wants his hair and the parent allows the child to answer that respect is given to both stylist and parent. It is just hair. Now I know that most parents do not want their 5 yr old son to have a Mohawk. If the child suggests that, the parent will more than likely say no. Stylists offer a fohawk. Both sides win. Everyone is happy.
- PARENTS & STYLISTS let the child sit/stand wherever. If it’s one of those days and the child is kind of fighting the chair, ask the child if he/she would rather sit on the floor, or stand. Also, some 4 year olds are way too cool for kid capes. Put the kid cape on then a black adult cape to cover it. Some kids will sit better if you yourself put on a kid’s cape as well! It’s fun, you’ll feel like the happy, laughing, non tax paying child you once were when wearing a kid’s cape. Try it.
- PARENTS ask if it’s ok to stop by a few times and allow your child to watch the stylist who will in the future be cutting your child’s hair, do other people’s hair for 5 mins at a time. This will show the child that this person knows what he/she is doing. The salon starts becoming a familiar place when pulling into the parking lot. Trust will be built. Trust is most important.
STYLISTS inform the tiny human client’s parent to stop by anytime with the tiny client. It will do all of the above benefits plus more respect will be given by both tiny human client and tiny human client’s parent.
- PARENTS of special needs children of all ages inform the stylist of the special needs. Don’t worry we aren’t going to judge. This information is important. If the stylist is not comfortable with special needs humans for lack of experience this will help prepare the stylist or allow the stylist to make a referral. Do not judge the stylist if he/she makes a referral. Not all of us stylists have experience with special needs. We can be afraid of doing something wrong and you losing respect for us as well as ruining the whole experience. Inform the stylist of what works or doesn’t work with your special needs child. I had a co-worker who had an adult special needs client. She would always cut his hair while he sat in a specific corner. That corner is what made him happy. That is perfectly fine. It may be your child needs quiet, if that’s the case your stylist may offer to come in early, stay later, or cut it in another room/area of the salon/spa. It may be your child needs to bring in a certain blanket, toy, or some other kind of comfort item, and that is perfectly fine. Just let your stylist know. We stylists are very chatty, if your child will do better not being talked to that is great information to have. If your child is deaf, your stylist may know sign language and may reserve extra time to be able to communicate with your child! I’ve had a pre-teen special needs client who couldn’t talk. I would ask her yes or no questions to make her feel comfortable and not make it a weird atmosphere. If the child can hear but not talk like my pre-teen client ask if it is ok to ask yes or no questions. The parent may say yes but inform you the child will answer yes or no in sign language or some other form of communication. Whatever the need is, please let your stylist know because we stylists are a lot of things but we have BIG, SOFT, HEARTS and we enjoy making every client feel like they are at Disney Land!
STYLISTS be honest with your client. On the first appointment with a special needs client do all you can to make it a special, non stressful experience! Ask questions prior to the appointment. Ask what you can do to make the appointment go smoothly. It’s ok if you haven’t had a lot of experience with special needs. Asking the questions, and getting the answers shows you care, and you want to make the appointment a wonderful experience for the client. If the client has issues with fabrics it may be best to go capeless. If the client has issues with sounds, do not use clippers. Yeah it may be harder and longer to scissor over comb that hair cut, but the service will go 7 million times smoother. Listen to the client’s parents on what works, what sets the child off, etc.
I hope you have all found this helpful! Please comment on and let us know if these tips have helped, comment your own tips! If you are a parent but not a stylist PLEASE leave a comment or more on tips you have for us stylists! Let’s use to help each other make kid services more enjoyable for everyone!