For quite some time now, it has been a real drama to get a haircut for my 3.5-year-old, Adam. If we brought him to a friend’s house for a haircut, things went well, but at an actual haircutting place – forget it. He simply decided that he didn’t like haircuts and that they were scary; he refused to cooperate, and it was all but impossible to get the deed done.
My husband and I decided that he is now old enough to be expected to cooperate. So this morning I made an appointment for him, and told him ahead of time that if he cooperated, we would go to McDonald’s afterwards and get a treat. If he did not cooperate, he would spend the rest of the day in his room with no toys. I don’t normally use treats/rewards, but it seemed appropriate in this case.
The first few minutes at Cost Cutters were a little rough, but he could see that I meant business. He also softened up when the stylist came up with the idea of forgetting about the booster seat altogether. From that point on, things went very well. He did want to hold my hand(s) at times, but he was generally cooperative and even good-natured.
Our experience this morning was drastically different from how it’s been for the last year or so. I have to believe that the prospect of spending the rest of the day in his room gave Adam the motivation to overcome his fears. Oh yeah, and the trip to McDonald’s didn’t hurt, either! But, and this is important, if we had offered a reward but not a consequence, it would have been an offer that was too easy for him to refuse. After all, he would have missed a trip to McDonald’s but gone on with an otherwise enjoyable day.