Kids and Hair Decisions

Boys haircut with very short clipper cut sides
Photo: Shutterstock
One of the questions I get quite often concerns kids’ hair and choices in style and length. It’s a question with quite a bit of conflict attached to it. Frankly, the parent IS responsible for the decisions while the child is a minor, but as a child gets older, it’s important to his or her sense of self esteem to be allowed to have more input into his or her appearance.
That being said, there are some things that a parent should really think about with regard to the hairstyles they choose for their children. In many cases, they can enlist the aid of their hairstylist in making determinations on some of these criteria, but we’ll discuss that as we address the criteria.
The Generation Gap
When I was starting school, all the little boys generally had one of two haircuts. Short back and sides with fringe cut in a straight line just above the eyebrows, or a bowl cut. The little girls all had shoulder length hair or longer, done up in pigtails or ponytails. I was never given a choice, every 3-4 weeks we were put into the car and driven to {my mom’s} “Cousin George’s” barber shop and given our short back and sides cut. (In the summer it was simply a #2 clipper cut all the way.) This continued into my early teens.
I had two cousins who were just slightly younger than I – both girls – and my aunt always kept their hair as long as possible when they were little. The younger one had quite curly hair, and hated having her hair brushed because of tangles. In fact, both girls constantly had to suffer through endless sessions of having their hair detangled and often ended up in tears before the process was done.
I tell you this story to introduce the two of the things a parent should keep in mind about their children’s hair. The first is that you should consider the current hair trends of the environment your child is in. Certainly, there are ages where it isn’t an issue, but toward the end of kindergarten and into first grade, any child who is different will often be teased for that difference. And at this age, children want to belong – to fit in – and you want that too.
So, next time you take your child to school, look around at the kids and see if your son or daughter has the kind of haircut that seems to fit in. And if your child asks to have his or her hair different, remember that at school age, “because so-and-so has that haircut” is a valid reason.
A lot of parents use only the example of their own experiences as a template for how their child’s hair should be kept, but what was a popular style in your childhood is surely different now – at least in some aspects. These differences can be enormous when put under the scrutiny of your child’s peers.
Of course, many of today’s parents may have been victim to the forced haircuts in their youth because I see a lot of different hairstyles on kids these days. In fact, a few days ago, I saw a mom in a minivan at a shopping mall with a handful of kids. One of the little boys – I estimate his age at about 8 – had a very interesting hairstyle. The majority of his head was shaved to the skin, with an inch-wide “trail” of hair starting at the center nape of his neck and winding around in curves and swoops to his center forehead.
It was so unusual, that I felt compelled to comment, so I asked the mother if I could say something to her son, and she said okay, whereupon I simply told him that I cut hair and thought his hairstyle was “really cool”. It was, really.
Competence in Maintenance
The story of my cousins and their long locks was to illustrate a similar idea – a parent with definite ideas of how a little girl’s hair should be kept. She believed that all little girls should have long hair, so that they (and others) would know that they were little girls. But my aunt went overboard, and gave herself (and her daughters) constant headaches by keeping their hair so long.
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