Getting a haircut should be an easy thing. Most even like the experience. But it can be really tricky for toddlers and preschoolers and the reason is simple:
They think it will hurt.
Top things NOT to say when prepping your child for a haircut (along with your child's thoughts):
It's like cutting your nails. Cutting your nails doesn't hurt! Well, actually, there was one time that it did hurt sooo... Also, that time you cut them too short and they bled.
It will only take a minute! I have no concept of time so that means nothing to me.
You can be a big boy and get a big boy haircut! Not convincing. What's the point of being a big boy when all it entails is potty training, haircuts and being brave...
We spend lots of time telling our children that scissors are sharp and dangerous. Yet, when its haircut time, we take them to someone who is using scissors near their face. So from their perspective, haircuts are not a safe deal.
What you CAN do:
Prep your child. We have a great social story here to read ahead of time.
Be selective of who cuts your child's hair. Many stylists are great with anxious children. Many stylists are parents and understand. Call ahead and make an appointment. Walk-ins can spell disaster for an anxious child, especially if you get a stylist who isn't overly empathetic.
Stay near. Hold your child's hand. Talk to your child. Make it a fun and relaxing experience.
Believe that your child can be successful. Be a cheerleader and heartily congratulate your child after the haircut is done. Don't focus on the haircut, focus on your child's ability to work through anxiety. That is something to celebrate!
Let Them Fly!