How to Help Children Who Are Afraid of Getting Their Hair Cut

Many children are afraid of getting their hair cut because they believe it could hurt them. It's key to be empathetic and accompany them.
How to Help Children Who Are Afraid of Getting Their Hair Cut
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 28 February, 2023

For children, a visit to the hairdresser can be just as unpleasant as a visit to the doctor’s office. Many children, especially in their early years, have an intense fear of getting their hair cut and all that this experience entails. This often worries and concerns parents, as what should be a very simple task requires strategically thought-out actions to get them to agree to cut their hair.

In this article, we’ll talk about the possible causes that sustain this fear and we’ll suggest some recommendations to help your little one go through this event in the best possible way.

Fear of getting a haircut

Fear is one of the basic emotions that all people feel. Moreover, it’s an adaptive mechanism. This means that it’s useful for us in order to identify possible threats and be able to act to defend ourselves against them. So, we know that developmental fears of childhood are to be expected and are even healthy. Generally, they’re temporary and don’t involve any type of intervention, although sometimes they may require professional help.

There are several factors that can enhance the fear of getting their hair cut, especially if it’s the child’s first time:

  • An unfamiliar place that’s high in visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli, such as beauty salons or hairdressers.
  • The type of tools used can be threatening: Razors, scissors, and sharp machines.
  • Holding still for a while and knowing that you might otherwise get hurt is also not the most pleasant sensation.
  • Although it doesn’t represent any kind of physical pain, having a part of their body removed, even if it’s their hair, can be shocking to them, in addition to the change of image that will follow.
A toddler boy crying during a haircut.
Fear of getting a haircut is very common during childhood, as loud, sharp tools come into play inches from the face.

How to help children that are afraid of getting their hair cut

When your child is afraid of getting their hair cut, you can take into account the following advice.

Validate their fear

As mentioned above, we understand that this fear is completely natural and even logical. Children believe that something could hurt them and, therefore, they’re afraid. Therefore, it’s essential to validate their emotions and make them understand that we understand and respect what they feel. In this regard, invalidating, ridiculing, or making fun of the child is a mistake. We shouldn’t underestimate or minimize their fears, as they’re what help them to defend themselves.

Anticipate the experience

It’s not good for the visit to the hairdresser’s to be unexpected for them, much less a surprise. Although it’s not a good idea to anticipate this situation weeks in advance, doing it without any kind of prior warning isn’t a good idea either. In addition, it’s essential to explain to them the importance of getting a haircut so that their hair grows strong and beautiful.

The best thing to do is to let them know a few days beforehand what’s going to happen and what the experience will be like. Perhaps you can visit the salon before the haircut or observe together, from outside the store, the movement of the children’s salon.

Make it clear that getting a haircut doesn’t hurt

Children know that there are certain objects that can make their bodies hurt. Sturdy furniture, the floor, or some tools with sharp edges, such as scissors, can hurt them and even make them bleed. Therefore, it’s not at all striking that they’re afraid of getting their hair cut. However, you and I both know that hair doesn’t hurt.

What can hurt is the scalp, for example, when children pull their hair. But children still have doubts about this. In this regard, it’s important to explain to them that a haircut doesn’t hurt. In fact, you can demonstrate at home by cutting a small strand of their hair after cutting a few hairs of your own.

Children at a children's hair salon.
There are some very creative and attractive children’s hairdressing salons that are also staffed by people who are predisposed to working with children.

Choosing the right salon for children who are afraid of getting their hair cut

There are salons specially designed for young children to enjoy getting their hair cut. These have car or spaceship-shaped chairs, colorful walls, and interactive games on the floor. In such a space, children may perceive this situation as just another game and may even want to come back soon. For this reason, before taking them to the adult salon where you go, look for a place more in line with their age.

Accompanying fear with respect and empathy

In short, the way to help a child overcome their fears is based on the idea of being able to be by their side with an empathetic attitude. It’s essential not to lose patience and to respect their own time. You shouldn’t force them to face this problem abruptly, but nor should you make a point to avoid it. Therefore, it’s a matter of finding a balance and giving them the confidence they’re looking for to encourage them to cut their hair.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Marina, J. A. (2012). Los miedos infantiles. PediatríaIntegral, 171.
  • Murga Pérez, I. (2019). Miedos y fobias: la infancia, la familia y la escuela.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.