I recently took my boys to get haircuts at the barbershop for the first time (Read: Our Trip to the Local Barbershop for a Haircut). Since everything was a such a success, I wanted to share the tips I used to make sure their visit went as smoothly as possible.
Think of a few activities, toys or food your child really enjoys to use as his special reward or bonus. What does he like to do? What makes him happy? Show pictures of the reward. Take an iPad or kindle fire so the child is able to play a game or watch a favorite show while they wait and during the hair cut.
Explain to your child exactly what you are planning to do during the haircut. Have conversations about getting a haircut. Use short sentences or visual supports using personal photos or picture icons. Take pictures while your child is getting a haircut. Take a picture of all the items used. You may also use icons like PECS or Boardmaker. Read a book or make your own with pictures about getting a haircut. Also, have a picture of their special reward for after the hair cut.
Let the barber know to Edge the front, sides and nape of the neck first for a shape-up then cut the hair. Should your child not tolerate a haircut before you or the barber is done, a shape-up will give him a clean, fresh haircut look, even if the hair has not been entirely cut.
Reassure your child during the haircut. Explain each step of the way. Praise him, for example, “Good job keeping your head still. You are sitting so nicely.” “All done, right after…” Let your child know that there is an end in sight. This step may be faded out gradually as your child becomes more familiar with the process.
Once the haircut is done, admire your child’s clean-cut appearance. “You look handsome!” Show him how he looks in the mirror, if tolerated. Take before and after photos so they can see the benefits of getting a haircut.
Remember to give your child a reward or bonus that he will enjoy. Give your child a choice for their bonus. A reward or bonus will show him that although we must do unpleasant things sometimes, we also get to do things that we enjoy.