95% or more of the articles and information found online about hair and grooming relate primarily to adults and their hairstyles. And even though there are many products on the market that
are designed for kids, they are literally a tiny fraction of a multi-billion-dollar industry. However, selecting haircuts and styles for kids generally requires some pretty specific considerations. As many parents know,
sometimes the biggest challenge of any day is dealing with the child’s hair.
To address these issues, let’s discuss some of the common problems (and their solutions) with choosing cuts and styles for your kids. Now, for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to set
a cut-off age for the topics here at about 10 years old. When kids reach 11 years and up, they generally want more input into their hair. Depending on your parenting style and feelings on their choices, this may or may
not be a big deal, but that’s something best addressed on a case-by-case basis. That said, let’s begin:
Hair Length and Age:
Growing up with many nieces and nephews of varying ages, it was interesting to see how different parents (even from similar backgrounds) approached the subject of kids’ hair. My
sister-in-law kept her sons’ hair as long as possible - in shag cuts (when the hair was curly) or mullets while they were under the age of five, but as soon as they started school, they were taken to the barber shop
and given buzz cuts. However, my sister who had girls, followed similar attitudes and was prone to keep her little girl’s hair uncut – without so much as a trim – which she claimed was meant to keep the hair as curly
as possible – until the child was 8 (and could actually brush her own hair properly) at which point she promptly took her and got it cut into a pixie cut.
Neither of these choices in the early years was based on pre-conceived ideas about gender, but rather a desire to preserve what was considered to be “great” features. All of my
sister-in-law’s children had beautiful hair - one was even a curly carrot top, and my sister’s primary concern was keeping what she thought of as adorable blonde curls on her cherub-cheeked little girl. However, as
the kids got older, more independently active, and their schedules increased, the constant hair care routine became a hassle. The problem most often complained of in both families was that getting the kids ready to
go anywhere took a great deal of time and effort, since the cuts selected for the kids required a LOT of styling time, and at young ages, this was not fun for the parents or kids. As a result, by the time the kids
would be able to help care for their hair, it was shorn.
Parents should always keep in mind that at certain ages – typically from toddler to kindergarten – as kids get more active in their play and expand their mobility - they’re often
going to have added styling needs. The beautiful two-year-old with the head full of ringlets may turn into a screaming 4-year-old after an afternoon of playing in the yard and a nap when you have to tame the medusa’s
nest that her hair has become. Similarly, the little boy whose bowl-cut is adorable and easy to care for at two and three, becomes a headache to keep looking neat when he’s constantly digging in the dirt, crawling
through bushes or climbing in the garden.
The key is to be realistic in your expectations of the effort to care for your children's hair while they’re small. At the toddling age, consider going for shorter cuts and styles that
are easy to maintain. If your little boy has really thick, lush hair, keep it cropped short while he’s at the age where he’s into everything but you still have to wipe his behind for him. And when your little girl runs
from you every time she sees a brush in your hand and you have to wrestle with the hair to untangle and tame it again, maybe cutting it shorter would help make it easier to manage. (At the very least, consider styles
like braids and twists as staples if you just can’t agree to cutting the hair.)
As the parent, you, of course, have every right to decide how your child’s hair should be cut and kept. I just encourage you to think about options that you may not have considered.
If the parents are divided on the issue of how to cut or keep the child’s hair, let the parent who advocates the higher-maintenance option take responsibility for keeping the hair groomed. Either the parent will come
to realize the difficulty, or the child’s hair will be groomed by the person who wants a specific look. Either way, the hairstyle problem will be resolved.
Gender Concepts and Kids’ Hair:
With infants, the visibility of the hair is often a perennial concern. Even with little boy babies, the parents are most pleased when the child has a lush head of hair. And when a
little girl baby is born, it’s not long before the parents are desperate for enough hair growth to be able to put in some adornment to signify that the child is, in fact, a girl. The situation doesn’t change as the
child gets older, either. From birth through toddling age, many parents want their little boys to look like “little men” and their little girls to be “girly”. Even among the most liberal-minded people I know, these
gender concepts prevail.
When gender concepts come into play, they often result in low-maintenance, easy-to-style looks for boys (if any styling at all is needed), but girls are often kept with hair as long
as it will grow, which requires much more care, and needs a lot of attention to keep healthy. This seems great with little boys, and bad with little girls, but not all little boys should have a super-short cut, and not
all little girls are suited to long hair. This doesn’t even consider the needs of children with coarse or very curly hair or those with whorls, hair streams and cowlicks. Children of different ethnicities will have their
own, specific hair needs, too.