Do Your Research
Let’s talk about the hair itself. Is yours stick straight, but your kid’s is curly? Vice versa? Cutting curly hair is a completely different operation than cutting straight hair. Straight hair lays flat, showing all your mistakes. Curly hair hides mistakes but becomes shorter as it dries, turning your cute bob into a Ronald McDonald.
All artists must educate themselves about the medium in which they work. I’ve had good luck with forums on Reddit, but if you’re averse to that place, look in magazines targeted to the particular demographic you want to learn about.
Think about the cultural statement your kid’s haircut will make. Last summer, my son wanted a buzz cut. He intended to look like a friend of ours, a man who handles his receding hairline by clear cutting the remaining forest. I was savvy enough to realize that I shouldn’t allow my son to look like Caillou, but clueless about the compromise we settled on—an undercut. Instead of letting my blond kid look like an annoying cartoon character, I made him look like one of Richard Spencer’s pals. If only I’d paid more attention to Macklemore.
You do not need Scotch tape. You need real shears. Not the scissors you use to open a bag of chicken nuggets. Not the blunt, plastic-clad things your kid uses to cut out construction paper hearts.
You can find dozens of shears—even for lefties—online. A word of warning: they will be sharp. Like a lightsaber and a diamond-edged circular saw had a baby. When you cut your child’s neck—and you will cut your child’s neck at some point—expect to soak through several pieces of gauze.
You need a comb. You need a spray bottle filled with warm water. (Cold water is chilly!) You can buy a barber cape if you want, but a superhero costume cape works just as well. Old towels and pillowcases are good choices if you have binder clips or spring clamps to hold them in place.
Avoid clipper-based haircutting kits at first. The clippers are sized for adults, and it’s a little awkward maneuvering them around tiny, lumpy heads. Plus, a power tool makes a person overzealous. Remember what you did to the shrubbery with the electric hedge trimmer?
Last but not least, you need a device that plays hours of videos. This process may take a while—slow and steady yields better results. Keep your kid stationary and half brain dead with cartoons. Like Caillou!
Choose a room that lacks a rug or carpet. It’s much easier to clean the impending hairy mess with a broom instead of a vacuum.
Put your eyes on the same level as your kid’s head. Many people achieve that by seating the child on a bar stool or a stack of books. But that creates a fall danger, and means that you’ll spend a share of your attention watching for a wiggly butt. Instead, put your client in a kid-sized chair or stool and stand on your knees. Use knee pads or a folded up towel if this gets painful.
Gather any drinks, snacks or bandages your kid might need in the next hour or so, and keep them within reach. Make yourself as comfortable and calm as possible. I sweat like a steamfitter when I concentrate on a project, so I cut hair in a T-shirt and shorts.
Finally, fire up the Caillou videos and baptize your child with a fine mist of warm water.