Son is afraid to get a haircut


(hadley hooper for the washington post)

Q My son, who is almost 3, refuses to get a haircut, which may seem like a trivial problem, but it’s really nagging at me. ¶ He didn’t mind getting a haircut at first, but then he began to resist it nearly two years ago even though he likes his barber — the same one he’s always had — and his barbershop, which has toys and a TV for the kids. My boy barely notices these distractions, however, because he’s worried about the haircut he has to get. ¶ He got his last haircut shortly before Christmas, but only after I agreed to climb into the chair and hold him on my lap. Suddenly, however, he freaked out and started squirming, writhing, kicking and screaming and began to hyperventilate. I then took him outside to get some fresh air and calm him down, but he had another meltdown the minute we went back into the shop. We quickly left, even though the barber had trimmed only 60 percent of his hair and it’s been a shaggy mop ever since. ¶ I’ve done a lot of “pretend” haircuts with my son since then, hoping that it would encourage him to get a real haircut, and I’ve offered incentives, but to no avail. I even took my son back to the barbershop to talk with the barber about his haircutting process; to watch people getting haircuts and to admire the cuts that the boys and the men were getting, but my son refused to get a haircut himself. ¶ Would I be accommodating him too much if I let him look like a ragamuffin until he is willing to get a haircut? Or should I tell him to get over himself and make him sit through a cut?

ALet’s look at last week’s news so we can put your problem into perspective.

Hundreds died or disappeared in a ferry accident off the Korean coast. The Malaysian plane is still missing. Ukraine is on fire.

In the scheme of things, a haircut just isn’t that important. And what is important?

●That you give your son the food and sleep he needs, so he will be healthy, strong and energetic.

●That you help him develop a good character so he will become a good citizen.

●That you teach him good manners, so he will be kind to others.

●That you encourage him to be as self-confident as he can be, so he will want to try new activities, new foods and new experiences.

If your son gets a haircut, he will look like the other boys in nursery school, but it won’t make him healthier, better, kinder or more confident. And if he doesn’t get one? You can look back at his pictures one day and say, “Have you ever seen such an adorable, shaggy-headed little boy?”

There are reasons enough to postpone his haircuts — and even any talk about haircuts — for a few months. After that, you might start cutting his hair yourself or looking for a barber who would be willing to let your son sit in a low chair and then lean down to clip his hair, rather than sit him in a barber chair and then raise it a couple of feet.

Although your son’s fears may have begun when he had a bad dream about his barber or seen the expression on your face when he leaned too close to the scissors, many children get frightened when they have to stand or sit several feet above the floor.

If you were to insist that your child get a haircut even though the idea frightens him, you could undermine his self-confidence and even affect his relationship with you for a while, because he would rather skip his haircut than lose faith in himself, as well as some of the faith — and trust — he has in you. A haircut shouldn’t cost that much.

8 Send questions about parenting
to advice@margueritekelly.com.

Also at washingtonpost.com Read a transcript of recent live Q&As hosted by Kelly at washingtonpost.com/advice , where you can also find past Family Almanac columns.

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