How to Give Your Kid a Not-Awful Haircut

Lexi Dwyer

Whether you have a toddler with stranger anxiety or you’re currently living under some form of quarantine due to COVID-19, you’re probably trying to figure out how to cut your kid’s hair yourself without giving them a patchy buzz or a hideous bowl cut. The good news is that with the proper tools, you can learn how to cut hair at home — just be realistic about your own limits, and stick to basic styles that will keep things stable until you can take your kid to an actual salon. 

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“My top rule is to always be what I call ‘scissor shy,'” says stylist Shauney Rivera of Edamama Cute Cuts & More in Brooklyn, “meaning cut less than you think you should be cutting. You can always go back and do more, but if you make it too short, it becomes hard to fix later. Remember,” she adds, “this is about giving them a trim, not a big chop.” 

Cozy Friedman, founder and CEO of Cozy’s Cuts for Kids in Manhattan, suggests having some key items handy before you begin. This will keep things moving and reduce the chances of aesthetic error. You’ll also want to cover your floor with newspaper (for easier cleanup) and arm your child with a device so they can watch their favorite show, much as they would in a real kids salon. In this case, distraction is your friend. 

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  1. Section off the bangs in a triangle and pull back the rest of the hair.

  2. Spritz bangs to dampen them.

  3. As you cut the bangs, never cut them beyond the bottom of the eyebrow. “If the hair is damp, you have to take into account that the hair is going to shrink up and get shorter,” says Friedman, adding, “You can always go back and cut more later.”

  4. Start in the center of the forehead and use that length as a guide, then cut the side pieces to the same length. As you pull the hair down to cut it, hold it loosely, rather than taut, so you don’t cut it too short. Never twist hair or pull it at an angle, or you’ll end up with bangs that curve.

  5. Although you’re holding the hair between your pointer and middle fingers, you can use your other fingers to protect your child’s eye area in case she decides to make a sudden move. You should also ask her to close her eyes during the bang trim to keep stray wisps out.