I'm a child behaviour expert and this is how to get your little one to behave during a haircut
KEEPING your children looking ship shape is hard work, with all the running about and getting mucky that little ones love to do.
But it's a whole other fight when it comes to your child's personal grooming.
For parents, taking your kids to the hairdressers and trying to convince them to be well behaved and sit still can be a complete nightmare.
Aware of challenges, child behaviour expert Sophie Giles spoke exclusively to Fabulous about how you can ensure your trip to the salon is smooth sailing.
She said: "Generally going to the hairdresser is more traumatic for parents than the kids.
"Children assume it's going to hurt, even if logically they know it won't.
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"You can see why when they're faced with someone coming at them with scissors."
If you want to make the trip to the salon as pain free as possible, here are Sophie's tips for keeping children calm and well behaved.
It's important for your child to know what to expect, particularly if they're anxious.
Sophie, who founded Gentle Start Family Consultancy, said: "If you think your child may be anxious going to the hairdressers, then you should talk them through exactly what's going to happen when they arrive.
"If you're going to a new hairdresser you could walk past it with your child the day before and watch through the window. That way they can see that other people are having their hair cut without being hurt."
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Wash their hair a lot
The professional also suggested washing your child's hair a number of times in the week before your visit.
She said: "Wash their hair a few days beforehand so they get used to someone touching their head.
"Some parents only wash their child's hair once a week or once every two weeks, so when a stranger comes to touch with their hair, it can be scary."
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Let them watch someone else first
Sophie said: "If you're forward planning enough, you could take your child with you to watch you having your hair cut or to watch an older sibling."
Let them play hairdresser
This may sound like a risky strategy but if well managed, letting a child play hairdresser before they go to the salon, could make it far more exciting.
Sophie said: "Let your child practice cutting hair on an old doll so they can play hair dresser themselves.
"Of course, it's important to supervise them and make sure they have safe scissors.
"You will also want to be incredibly specific with them that this is the only hair they can cut – otherwise you could have a rogue four-year-old marching around with scissors!"
Pick the hairdresser well
If you're in an area with options it may be worth doing some research to make sure you go to one that is geared up for kids.
Sophie said: "Some hair dressers specialise in children's hair, they have a novelty chair or toys.
"If you can't find one designed for children, you can always take a book with you and read to keep them distracted."
Have a treat lined up
The expert also suggests telling them that there's something fun you've arranged afterwards so they have something to look forward to.
Sophie said: "Don't focus them on what's happening now but what's happening after.
"Make a point of talking them about what's going to happen after the haircut while they're having their in the chair."
Practice being still
If you're concerned your child won't be able to stay still during their trim, you can always get them used to being patient with some fun games.
Sophie said: "Practicing impulse control games for a few days before is really good.
"Like hide and seek or musical statues or musical chairs where they have to stay still."
Get them used to the mist spray
The expert said: "Most hairdressers just wet children's hair rather than washing it. So if your child is afraid of having their face misted, you may want to get them used to it.
"In summer they could play in the garden with a water spray bottle and in winter you can always let them loose with it in the bath.
"If you let them have ownership of it, they know how it works and how it's going to feel so it's not so scary when someone comes at them with it."
Make a chart
For children who are particularly bad at sitting still or who struggle with something like ADHD, there's always the last resort of a rewards chart.
Sophie said: "For children who have real difficulty, I will literally have a minute by minute tick chart that I will design beforehand.
"I will break it down into one minute or two minute segments and every minute that goes by they get a tick or sticker on the chart.
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"When they've got all of the boxes ticked, they get to pick a prize."
You can find more information on parenting and behavioural consultant Sophie Giles and the consultancy she founded on their website: Gentle Start Family Consultancy.
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