Hair Cuts

Hair cuts.  How do you handle them in your family?  Sure, there are lots of cute little salons set up for kids.  Your child can sit in a miniature seat, get candy and watch TV, while a stylist clips away.  That is, unless, you have a kid on the spectrum.  If you have a spectrum kiddo, all bets are off.  Taking a kid to the barber is like taking a trip to hell.

My son, otherwise known as Boo Bear, was born with a thick head of wavy hair.  It offset his blue eyes and long black lashes.  I thought it was adorable; he had other thoughts.  He was released from the hospital at the age of 16 days.  By the age of 21 days, I knew we were going to have hair issues.  He would run his fingers through his long locks, get them tangled, pull, and let out ungodly screams.  The only thing I could think to do to keep him from pulling his hair was to have him wear mittens: in July.  I took him to visit his adoring godmother, who though not yet a mom, is endowed with a good bit of common sense.  She laughed at the mittens and insisted we cut his hair.  I was horrified.  He was only three weeks old!  She pointed out it was 90 degrees in the shade and he was wearing mittens.  I had to admit she had a point.  So, we got out her husband’s clippers and went to work.  Interestingly, Boo Bear did not seem to mind the gentle buzz of the razor.  He happily lay in my arms as his long locks of hair began to cover the floor.  Soon, I had a baby with a buzz cut.  He looked like a very tiny recruit for the Marine Corps.  We shed the mittens and he was much happier.  I gathered up some of the locks for his baby book.

Fast forward a few years.  Boo’s sensory issues had grown more extreme.  He now wanted nothing to do with clippers or scissors.  Obviously, taking him to a kid barber shop would be paying money for a full on meltdown.  So, what is a parent with a shaggy toddler to do?  You improvise and you bribe.  As I have said before, Boo Bear will put up with a lot for candy.  Gummy Bears and Sour Patch Kids are high value treats in his world. So here is the routine we have used for years — this usually takes two agile adults who are ready for a wrestling match with an annoyed squid:

  • Strip child down to either underwear or pull-ups and sit him on a beach towel in the middle of the living room floor.  I use the living room because it has no carpet.  If your living room has carpet, you might want to try the kitchen floor instead; it is easier to sweep up afterwards.
  • Slowly introduce the clippers.  Let your child get used to the noise.  Softly run the clippers over your arm, then his.  We use Wahl clippers with a number 4 (1/2″) beard attachment.
  • While one adult or parent holds the child in their lap, the other parent makes a quick pass over his head with the clippers.  If this pass is successful, offer lots of praise and candy.  With one parent holding on with a death grip and offering candy, the other parent continues making passes with the clippers until most of the hair is cut.
  • Bring out the scissors to get those pesky bits of hair around the neck and the ears.  Show the child the scissors and offer more candy.  With one parent keeping a firm grip on the head, let the other parent snip the rest of the hair.
  • Brush the hair off the child and let him go, while heaping him with praise and candy.
  • Sweep up all the hair and put it outside.  Shake the towel off outside.  I have a little fantasy that the birds will come and make nests with Boo Bear’s hair.  I have no idea if they really do or not.  If you are a less sentimental type, you may merely throw the hair in the garbage.
  • Give your child a bath to get rid of all the itchy hair stuck to his body.  Throw in lots of toys, bubbles, etc.. Make it the best bath time ever.
  • When your freshly clipped, scrubbed child is safely in bed, collapse on the couch with your partner in crime and enjoy a stiff drink.
  • Wait six to eight weeks and repeat.

As I wrote this, I remember how his first and favorite PCA (personal care assistant) used to cut his hair until he was nearly five.  She would just stick him in the high chair where he could not escape, put candy on the tray and go to work.  This was a good solution until he was about 5 years old and too big to fit in the high chair.  At that time, we moved to the floor.

You may have your own tricks and tips to hair cutting.  If you do, please share them in the comments box below.  I would love to hear your ideas and you give valuable insight to other parents.  Thanks!

Author: snort262

I am a wife, mom, long distance runner and fierce autism advocate. My background is in education. Currently, I am a nanny, a tutor, and an autism consultant.

One thought on “Hair Cuts”

  1. Aaron didn’t want anything to do with clippers. For a long time bringing then anywhere near him was grounds for shrieking and meltdown. Until 2nd grade I cut his hair at home with scissors- just all over his head to the width of my finger. In second grade, he came with me and Granny to the barbershop while his brother got a haircut, and decided he wanted a mohawk. He picked the barber he liked, and let him use the clippers with a minimum of flinching and whimpering. For the next 5-6 years, that one guy was the only person allowed to touch his hair, and we followed him around through three different places. When he finally moved away altogether, Aaron wouldn’t let anyone touch his hair until it was so long he couldn’t see. I finally talked him into a scissors only cut, and that’s what we’ve been doing since.


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