WATCH ABOVE: An Atlanta barber is offering parents the chance to punish misbehaving children with “old man cuts.” Jon Shirek reports.
A barber, and father of three, in suburban Atlanta has found a new way to cut down on bad behaviour after becoming frustrated with one of his sons getting into trouble at school.
Russell Fredrick, 34, has introduced a new haircut called the “Benjamin Button Special” that comes complete with a bald crown and ring of hair around the sides of the head typical among older balding men. Fredrick gave the haircut to his 12-year-old son, Rushawn, who was acting out in class.
Fredrick, who runs the salon A-1 Kutz, told The Washington Post he saw immediate results after implementing the unusual public punishment and his son’s grades “dramatically skyrocketed” after receiving the haircut.
“Parents are at a loss,” Fredrick told the Post, who also goes by the name “Rusty Fred.” “When you go to discipline kids these days, they can’t necessarily use physical punishment the way parents did in the past, but they have to do something. If you don’t, and your kid ends up doing something crazy, everyone is going to say the problems started at home.”
The images of Rushawn looking sullen with his new haircut have been shared widely across social media.
“There are a few people that are saying it’s emotional abuse; but on average, everyone is applauding the mother that brought the child in — and applauding me as well,” Fredrick said.
Natasha Sharma, a Toronto psychotherapist, says publicly shaming a child is nothing new and is not necessarily effective in changing a child’s behaviour.
Sharma says negative punishments, like an odd haircut, are not effective because it hampers a child’s ability to learn from their mistake.
“It instils emotions that cloud the child’s ability to think rationally and actually learn what behaviour could be better,” she said. “Punishment will also only work as long as you’re in the room. It works as long as the child thinks they can get away with it. And the moment they think they can get away with it they will revert to that behaviour.”
Sharma said parents should work with their children to the address behavioural issues and really understand where it is coming from.
“Is it the product of a learning disorder or disability? Does it have context like from ADHD or is it stemming from problems at home that the parent doesn’t want to address?” asked Sharma.
Meanwhile, Fredrick and his team of barbers are offering the unique form of discipline to parents who want to try it free of charge.