After all, it’s a new experience for them involving a loud contraption (and/or sharp scissors) wielded by a big person coming at them. It’s understandable that it could be a scary experience for a young child.
That's how it was for our second-born. All it took was the sound of the trimmer buzzing for him to recoil away in fear. No amount of reassurance or bribery would help us get anywhere closer to cutting his hair. But then we got an idea.
My husband works in mental health. One day, he was talking to a colleague, a therapist, about ways to calm an anxious child. She mentioned that role-playing and getting hands-on with whatever was scaring them could be beneficial. She used the example of shots and recommended that a child who was afraid of shots be given the opportunity to play with them (minus the needles, of course) in the bath as squirting toys.
He would role-play, giving his superhero toys and stuffed animal shots, all while reassuring them that the pain wasn’t too bad.
We had actually used her suggestion with our oldest child who was terrified of shots. From the time he could speak, he would demand “No shots” the minute we walked into the pediatrician’s office. To say that it was difficult to get him his immunizations would be a massive understatement.
So, we allowed him to begin playing with the needle-less syringe at home. He would role-play, giving his superhero toys and stuffed animal shots, all while reassuring them that the pain wasn’t too bad. He also played with the shots in the bath, as the therapist had recommended. It didn’t completely dismantle his fears the next time we visited the doctor, but it certainly helped and made the experience bearable.
With our second son, we played on this concept using the hair trimmer. We asked him if he would like to hold his own hair trimmer—after covering up the blade with a blade guard—and give his favorite stuffed monkey a haircut while we cut his hair with our trimmer.
It worked beautifully!
He took the "job" of cutting his monkey’s fur very seriously and was perfectly happy to have his hair cut at the same time.
I remember looking at my husband it complete shock. We definitely experienced a “I can’t believe this is actually working!” moment as we observed our calm, obedient child.
When it came time to cut his hair once again, we brought Mr. Monkey into the bathroom with us and both he and my son were able to get the haircuts they needed. After that, our son no longer feared haircuts and his reliance on the monkey for reassurance came to an end.
Parent hacks don’t always pan out the way you hope that they will, but this was one scenario that made us grateful our plan worked.