It is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of parenthood. No, not teaching a child to how read, share toys or have good manners, but the task of trying to get a child to sit still — in particular when getting their hair cut.
Sitting motionless in a chair is a lot harder than it sounds for small people, whether it’s a wriggling baby in a mother’s arms, a hyperactive toddler intent on breaking free or a bored and fidgety schoolchild.
Throw in a pair of large scissors hovering dangerously close to their child’s head, and it’s perhaps little surprise that many parents — myself included — are not always so keen on the thought of taking their offspring for a trim at the hairdressers.
I circumvented such fears when my daughter — now nearly 2 — was a baby by simply doing it myself. Cue my husband clasping onto her head with fear in his eyes as I speed-snipped the hair from around her face. It worked for a while, but as she grew bigger and livelier (and her fringes grew wonkier) it became increasingly apparent that my talents as a hairdresser were limited and the services of a professional were required.
And so I needed to find a hairdresser. Thankfully, we discovered by chance the small, low-key and ever-friendly salon Roston Hair on a quiet backstreet of Daikanyama, Tokyo.
The salon is clearly designed with grown-ups in mind — as reflected by the decor and the clientele (think young fashionable men and women flicking through edgy fashion magazines while undergoing complicated hair-dying procedures). However, it also offers a warm welcome to knee-high customers, with children’s haircuts on the menu, alongside a string of clever tools to keep the little people entertained and sitting still.
Children wait their turn in a mini padded play area discretely located in the corner, where they can slip off their shoes and have free reign with a collection of toys and books or sit and draw pictures at a tiny desk.
Then, when it’s time to be placed in the hot seat, the child is covered with a protective gown decorated with brightly-colored teddy bears. If they are still small, as in the case of my daughter, sitting on a parent’s lap is fine.
And the piece de resistance? A small video player, which is placed just in front of the mirror to keep little customer’s eyes fixed straight ahead, helping out the friendly and patient staff. “Anpanman” is a common favorite.
Thankfully, Roston Hair is among a number of salons that are increasingly catering to young customers, with another top place to mention being Zusso Kids, a colorful salon chain with 11 stores across Japan, including five in Tokyo.
Exclusively designed for children, the best feature of the stylishly designed Zusso Kids outlets is undoubtedly the chairs. Forget classic swivel seats; each child is given a shiny car to sit in, resembling a funfair rather than a salon.
Each car also has its own private TV set to help the children — who are accepted from age 6 months to around 11 years old — to sit still and watch videos while the scissors are out and snipping their hair.
“Zusso Kids are hair salons designed only for children,” explains Yuka Nakakita, from CMA Inc, the company that manages the salons. “It’s a new type of theme, aiming to mix entertainment with beauty.”
And with children’s hairdressing salons as stylishly and thoughtfully created as that, perhaps the simple act of sitting still is not going to be so challenging after all.
Roston Hair: 20-6 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; 03-5458-8088; www.roston-hair.jp; children’s haircuts from ¥2,500, or from ¥2,000 5-7 p.m. on weekdays. Zusso Kids: various locations nationwide; www.zussokids.1755.net; children’s haircuts from ¥3,990.