KEEPING your kids in ship shape is hard work, with all the moving and messing that toddlers love to do.
But it’s a whole other battle when it comes to your child’s personal grooming.
For parents, taking your kids to the hairdresser and trying to convince them to behave and sit still can be a real nightmare.
Aware of the challenges, child behavior expert Sophie Giles spoke exclusively to Fabulous about how you can ensure your trip to the salon is a smooth one.
She said: “In general, going to the hairdresser is more traumatic for parents than for children.
“Kids assume it’s going to hurt, even though they logically know it won’t.
“You can see why when they’re confronted by someone coming at them with scissors.”
If you want to make the trip to the salon as painless as possible, here are Sophie’s tips for keeping kids calm and well-behaved.
It’s important for your child to know what to expect, especially if they are anxious.
Sophie, who founded Gentle Start Family Consultancy, said: “If you think your child may be anxious about going to the hairdresser, you should explain to them exactly what will happen when they arrive.
“If you go to a new hairdresser, you can walk past it with your child the night before and look out the window. That way they can see other people getting their hair cut without hurting themselves.”
wash your hair a lot
The professional also suggested washing your child’s hair several times in the week before your visit.
She said: “Wash your hair a few days before so it gets used to someone touching your head.
“Some parents only wash their child’s hair once a week or once every two weeks, so when a stranger comes to touch their hair, it can be scary.”
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Let them watch someone else first
Sophie said: “If you plan enough, you can take your child with you to watch you get a haircut or to watch an older sibling.”
Let them play hairdresser
It may seem like a risky strategy, but if handled well, letting a child play hairdresser before going to the salon could make the task much more exciting.
Sophie said: “Let your child practice cutting hair on an old doll so they can play hairdresser themselves.
“Of course it’s important to watch them and make sure they have safe scissors.
“You’ll also want to be incredibly specific with them that it’s the only hair they can cut – otherwise you might have a four-year-old thug walking around with scissors!”
Choosing the right hairdresser
If you’re in an area with options, it might be worth doing some research to make sure you pick one that’s kid-friendly.
Sophie said: “Some hairdressers specialize in children’s hair, they have a chair or fancy toys.
“If you can’t find one designed for children, you can always take a book with you and read to distract them.”
Prepare a treat
The expert also suggests telling them you organized something fun afterwards so they have something to look forward to.
Sophie said: “Don’t focus them on what’s happening now, but what’s happening next.
“Make sure you talk to them about what’s going to happen after the haircut while they’re sitting in the chair.”
Practice standing still
If you’re worried that your child won’t be able to stay still during their haircut, you can always train them to be patient with fun games.
Sophie said: “Practicing impulse control games a few days before is really good.
“Like hide and seek or musical statues or musical chairs where they have to stand still.”
Get them used to the fogger
The expert said: “Most hairdressers just wet children’s hair rather than washing it. So if your child is worried about getting a foggy face, you might want to get them used to it.
“In the summer they could play in the garden with a water spray bottle and in the winter you can always let them loose in the bath.
“If you let them own it, they know how it works and how it’s going to feel, so it’s not that scary when someone comes at them with it.”
Make a graph
For kids who are particularly bad at sitting still or struggling with something like ADHD, there’s always the last resort of a reward chart.
Sophie said: “For kids who are really struggling, I will literally have a minute-by-minute tick chart that I will design beforehand.
“I’m going to break it down into one or two minute segments and every minute that passes they get a tick or a sticker on the chart.
“When they have all the boxes checked, they can choose a prize.”
You can find more information about parenting and behavioral consultant Sophie Giles and the consulting firm she founded on their website: Gentle Start Family Consultancy.