A Stylist’s Guide To Working With Toddlers And Teenagers

Becoming an amazing stylist is about more than graduating from aesthetic school and making sure your clients walk out of the salon looking fabulous. It's also about managing the clients that won't always be appreciative and happy about your work. In many cases, you will encounter customers who are unruly, unwilling to compromise or simply won't sit still in your chair. Dealing with toddlers and teenagers can be tricky, but remember, you are a professional and have trained for these sticky situations. Here are a few tips on how to keep your most demanding clients, namely toddlers and teenagers, happy:

Dealing With Uncooperative Toddlers

You've purchased a few lollipops and a brightly-colored smock in preparation for dealing with your younger clients. However, despite your best efforts to remain cordial and upbeat, especially to the frustrated or embarrassed parent, chances are many toddlers who sit in your chair won't be happy to be there.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways for you to keep the toddler still – and the parents happy:

  • Ask The Right Questions While Making the Appointment – While you're making the appointment, ask the parent a few questions to determine the best course of action. For example, inquire if this is the toddler's first salon experience, and if anything helped calm them down in the past. Also ask if the appointment is during the toddler's regular nap time. If so, encourage the parent to reschedule the appointment for a time when the toddler is fed and well rested.

  • Take The Toddler On a Tour of the SalonDebby Parker, owner of the Tipperary Salon in Beverly Hills, recommends taking any apprehensive toddlers on a tour of the salon. Introduce them to the other stylists, and point out that all the other customers are getting their hair cut, and that it doesn't hurt.

  • Keep the Parents Involved – Insist the parents stay at their toddler's side the entire time. Whenever things get hairy, ask the parent to step in to discipline or comfort the toddler. Remember it isn't your job to yell or provide comforting hugs.

  • Know When To Say When – Finally, if the toddler is completely uncooperative, and you can sense the parents are getting upset or frustrated, calmly suggest trying again. Ask the parent to reschedule the appointment, and suggest next time, the toddler is well fed and well rested.

Teenagers Aren't Just Bossy and Uncooperative At Home

Toddlers can be tricky, but sometimes, their older siblings can be even worse. Teenagers are notoriously picky, and there will be times when your professionalism will be pushed to its limits. 

One issue you might face is a teenager who walked into the salon expecting a certain look, and unfortunately, they weren't satisfied with the results. In this instance, remember you're the adult and it's important to stay calm. If the teen's parent is a client, ask them to intervene, and don't be afraid to offer a partial refund.

Another problem you might face is a teenager with unrealistic expectations, and a budget that won't allow them to achieve the look they're after. In this case, pull out a few books and magazines and work with the teen to find a look that works with their coloring and features. Steer clear of celebrity photos  – which can be difficult to recreate on a teen's limited budget – and instead, work as a team to create a new and unique style!

As a stylist, your duties will often go far beyond your job description – especially when you're dealing with difficult, younger clients. When you find yourself in these tricky situations, remember to keep your cool and whenever possible, a sucker and the support of a parent will always help.