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November 29, 2022

Montessori Toddler - Preparing for a Haircut

After five kids it seems that we have a hair pattern in our house with our babies. We either get blonde bald baby or darker hair with curls. Either way, we don't get a lot of hair cuts around here with my younger toddlers. The curly ones haven't needed it, and the bald ones haven't had much hair until 3. So, my kids tend to be a little older for their first cuts, and therefore a little more aware of what's happening.   

Tips for Haircuts with Montessori Toddlers

With that awareness of change can come a bit of anxiety over the haircut process - what it will look like, feel like, and be like. As with all things, we want to make sure our kids feel respected, heard, and safe when we are touching their bodies and making changes that effect them. Additionally, haircuts can be a sensory challenge for some kids and just overall a scary experience - um, hello, stranger with scissors. 

Teddy recently had his first major hair cut at just over 3-years-old. Sob. He went from toddler-baby looking guy to just so huge in a matter of minutes. The process went really well for him after a couple of months of preparing for this moment. So, I thought I would share some of the ways we prepared Teddy for his recent first haircut:

  • Take Your Time: we started talking about why we need hair cuts - hair in our eyes, not wanting to comb, knots - many weeks ago. Toddlers aren't born with a sense of why every task needs to be done, so we just talk about it
  • Play: I encouraged Teddy to play with my hair, and, if he wanted, let me play with his. Just getting more comfortable with hair in general and how it can change.
  • Watch: Teddy went with Henry to get his haircut. He could see the whole process without any pressure to participate 
  • Practice: With his permission, I used scissors to clip a few small sections of his hair to show him that it doesn't hurt to cut hair.

"We must respect the child and he must understand that he is respected. He needs to be prepared for everything that is going to be done for him." Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures


  • Ask: Each week I asked Teddy if he was ready for his haircut. For awhile he said no, or gave a time when he would be ready. But, then one day he said yes. So we scheduled. 
  • Pick Your Time: I picked a time when I thought it would be less busy (right before lunch on a Tuesday) This way I knew that it would be quieter and less overwhelming. Some kids might like more action happening and might feel more comfortable during a busier time - trust and know your  child. 
  • Explain: I made sure that I took the time to explain everything that was happening to Teddy as his hair was getting cut. It was good modeling for the adult who may not have been used to that, and helpful for Teddy to know what was happening. 

And, that's it! Overall it was a really successful and low stress event for Teddy and I think will start him off on a positive foot with haircuts. Moving forward, I will continue to ask (as I notice the need) if Teddy wants a haircut. Ultimately, it's his hair and the length he chooses will be up to him. 

How do you prepare for a first haircut? 

Tips from a Montessori parent for a successful first haircut with a toddler. By taking time and respecting a child this can be a positive experience


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Anonymous said…
Can we please keep normalizing the sportscasting! My kids (myself for that matter too) feel way more comfortable when there’s a narrative of what’s going on especially when it’s something involving their bodies. Haircuts, dentist, clothes fittings, etc. It’s partly curiosity and wanting to learning and partly because new scary experiences with more or less strangers. I try to narrate what I can and encourage professionals like the dentists to explain what’s going on but that’s not always respected. Why we expect humans, regardless of age, to just be okay and even joyful about having to endure things that are totally new without explanation is a mystery to me. It’s no wonder there can be so much anxiety around new experiences. Last note I have is that it’s also okay to leave in the middle of things like haircuts and dental cleanings if there’s too much anxiety. You can always reschedule and come back when things feel better for everybody.
Anonymous said…
Great article, thanks. My boy is only 21 months and we’ve had three fairly traumatic haircuts, mostly at the behest of his grandparents (there’s only so much pass-ag commenting I can cope with). I will be using your ideas going forwards.
Stacey said…
We did very similar things as you did, and after a while of chatting about what a haircut is during our daily routine of brushing my sons hair, we would play "barber shop". I would "greet" him as if I was the barber, ask him what he was getting done today, and say "snip snip" as I combed his hair and pretended my fingers were scissors. He would bring his cars along sometimes and I or he would be the barber and pretend to cut their "hair" too. We watched daddy a few times there and he sat on daddy's lap the first few times. The first time we went to go, he giggled most of the way through at the sound of the scissors, and daddy being silly saying "snip snip". It was a surprisingly glorious first time, and I was really happy with the amount of prep we did. We are about to go for our fourth haircut at 3 and a half and he sits on his own at the barber shop and does very well.