Don't take all of your children at the same time - this tends to create a frenzy of children and parents often have a difficult time relaying their ideal cut for their kiddo when they are distracted and end up disappointed.
Ask the stylist to go slow and show your child the shears, let them feel the buzzer in their hands and next to their ear before the service even begins.
Don't let the stylist assume your child will be ok with a cape being thrown over them for the service. My kiddos need to touch and feel and have an explanation for what is going to happen and why (it protects them from itchy hair). I also have a kid cape - it has lots of animals and colors - it gives me a springboard for conversation during the hair cut.
Here is something that worked for me:
One of my biggest success happened with a boy (4 years) who I knew was going to fight me tooth and nail and was a wiggly little one. I went through the above steps, but since I work at people's homes, I took him into a bathroom that was away from the other children, with a parent - it was quiet so he didn't have to deal with the added distraction of his siblings. I pulled out my secret weapon, hoping it would work and it did. Where he happened to be seated was directly across where I had placed his favorite candy. I told him that as soon as we were done, he could have the candy. He was immediately concerned that his sister and friend would not get some: it was MY lucky day - the extras I brought along were going to pay off. We talked about why it was important to stay still (scissors are sharp!), he mistook the information, which happened to pay off for me - he was more worried that I was going to cut myself if he wiggled than him! We had polite conversation and before he knew it - we were done. I think that another part of what worked for him is that we did the cut in his own home... he didn't have much time to think in the car and have anxiety over the hair cut to come.
I don't think the "candy" presented at the end is a great idea - it needs to be right in front of their face so they have a reward (if you choose candy) to look at during what may be a stressful time for him or her. If you see a big bowl of candy when you walk in the salon and you don't prefer your child to have that as a reward when they are done, please quietly ask the stylist to not offer it to your child. You as a parent may want to have your own focal point as a reward.
To minimize the chaos that may be difficult for your child at a busy salon is to call ahead and find out when the slow times occur and go then! You might find the good fortune of a stylist who can take the extra time to take a few more steps with your little one.
Mama: don't expect perfection from the stylist or your child. Every child wiggles, even if it is just a little.
Down and dirty
Sometimes a stylist may be rushing through a cut to make their numbers, especially at the lower end, quickie salons. They have to get a client in and out of their chairs within 15 minutes - not a lot of time to calm the kiddo down before starting, explain the service, hear your ideas about what you want the hair to look like and clean up and check you out. If the stylist hits it out of the park: tip well - they remember.
Let me know if you have any questions or feedback!
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