Your son’s first cut will undoubtedly be one of many milestones that you're looking forward to. Proud parents naturally imagine little “Junior” all smiles, propped up in the barber chair, while Mom or Dad take snapshots and videos to post all over social media.
Often times the reality may not always mirror what we've imagined. Worst case scenario being “Junior” screaming the shop down with Daddy restraining him, while Mom helplessly tries to reassure him that it's okay. However, it doesn't have to be that way and fortunately I am here to help.
Here are a few tips so that everyone’s experience, will be less like the latter and more like the one you imagined.
Get him used to the idea
This is undoubtedly the single most important thing a parent can do to ensure their son's first cut is joyful rather than tearful. Let Dad (uncle, nephew or cousin if dad isn't available) bring him along even before its “the” time. Perhaps several visits if possible, the more visits, the better. Reason being, Junior gets to observe Dad and others, including children, getting cut as well. Introduce him to your Barber. Further, plant the seed in his mind by asking him, “Are you getting a cut too?”
Assure him that is doesn't hurt. In addition, one of my clients whose son is yet to have his “first”, ensures each visit is pleasurable by bringing treats to the shop that he enjoys or opts to take him for treats after.
This effectively creates a positive association with the barbershop and the enjoyable experience. Every time “Junior” accompanies Dad to the shop he'll be more comfortable with the Barber, the environment and most importantly the idea of getting his haircut.
Make the sure that he is mature enough and keep the hair cut simple! While there's no specific age requirement for giving a child their first haircut I recommend that the child be at least three years of age or more. Put yourself in your son’s shoes for a moment.
A haircut can take anywhere on average from between 15 to 30 minutes. Do you know how difficult it is for a little one to sit still for that amount if time? While 15 minutes may not seem long to you, but for a child this is an eternity! And 30 minutes is eternity times infinity!! So it's best to gauge the child’s maturity in this regard. And as for keeping it simple, remember that the more complex the cut, the longer the child has to sit still.
The cut should be simple enough so that the barber can finish it, if at all possible, before your son’s attention span is spent and then becomes irritated. Once he becomes irritable then the experience for everyone will become likewise. Be considerate of “Junior’s” feelings when choosing the style of cut and his ability, or lack there of, to sit still for the time required.
I learned this very obvious but effective tactic from a fellow barber. As the old adage goes “Time flies when you're having fun”. And so it is with getting a haircut cut. Allowing your son to watch videos or play games on your mobile device might just be the trick. Keeping his focus occupied elsewhere other than on the “inconvenience” of enduring his haircut. So be sure to download his favorite games or videos to your pad or phone before heading to the shop.
Timing is everything.
How many times have you heard that one. Well its true in this instance as well. Don't schedule his haircut appointment close to nap times or meal times. Neither fuel him with sugary foods before you bring him. If you gas him up with a lot of sugar before he gets in the chair then chances are his hyperdrive will kick in making it almost impossible for him to sit still.
As far as nap and meal times are concerned, how many of us are miserable when we're tired or hungry. Heaven forbid if we're both! Likewise, Junior will likely be more amicable and compliant if he's had some grub and a little shut eye beforehand.
Choose a barber that has a lot of experience with cutting kids.
While this maybe your first time on the pitch, so to speak, you don't necessarily want it to be his. Cutting children is daunting enough for an inexperienced barber because of the inevitable challenges that come with the age factor. The added pressure of “the first cut” may prove down right overwhelming for some. While this isn't a hard and fast rule, I've observed over and over through the years that experienced barbers tend to be better equipped at handling these situations. Like veteran “players” on a team, they've played in and have won many “championship titles” before. They have the confidence to take charge of the situation while simultaneously, putting the newer players(you and especially your son), at ease.
They have “got this!” Just as seasoned players know how to win, experienced barbers know how to deliver. Furthermore, a top flight coach may even have to “substitute” an overzealous player before he gets “carded”, similarly, well experienced barbers even know when and how to “sideline” overzealous parents who in an effort to help, maybe in fact be hindering the process.
You'll know at the time when it's happening because he'll respectfully say so. Please don't be offended if this ever happens to you. Remember, he wants the same thing you do, to give your son the best and painless cut possible. Again, this is your first time, it isn't his. He knows what he's doing and he knows what it takes to “win!”
The first haircut is truly one of those special moments that will never be forgotten. I hope these tips help to make that memory a fond one for your son as it will be the first of many.
Take care until we meet again “In the Shop!”