This barber is giving ‘old man’ haircuts to punish naughty kids

By Malavika Pradeep

Published Feb 7, 2022 at 10:36 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Are your kids acting too ‘grown up’ for their age? Do you think they need a more radical approach—apart from extra chores and reduced screen time—to be disciplined? If so, an Atlanta-based barbershop has got you covered.

Three days a week, parents can take their misbehaving kids to A-1 Kutz in Snellville and ask for the “Benjamin Button Special”—a haircut specifically designed to teach your kids a lesson. How, you ask? For starters, visualise your child walking to school looking like a balding senior citizen.

The haircut, designed by Russell Fredrick and his team of barbers, involves shaving a child’s crown—just enough to resemble a receding hairline. Dubbed as the perfect punishment for obnoxious kids, the Benjamin Button Special invites adolescent humiliation that stems from unwanted attention and teasing classmates. Who’s the grown up now, huh?

Ever since its conception, the haircut has been proven effective in wiping smirks off children’s faces. I mean, just look at this boy’s before and after pictures of getting the haircut:

This barber is giving ‘old man’ haircuts to punish naughty kids

Gathering supporters worldwide, Fredrick initially advertised the haircut after he used the novel disciplinary measure on his 12-year-old son, Rushawn. “So u wanna act grown… well now u look grown too👴,” the Instagram post read and quickly went viral on the platform. The verdict? Rushawn’s grades, which were at an all-time low, “dramatically skyrocketed” after the Benjamin Button Special. Say what?

According to Fredrick, the haircut witnessed an influx of positive responses. “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,” he told The Washington Post.

The expert also highlighted how this reception may have stemmed from parents increasingly reevaluating their means of discipline in their households. “Parents are at a loss,” he said. “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.”

As someone who was brought up in an Asian household, I can’t help but agree with that statement. But does the use of public humiliation as a disciplinary tool actually work? According to Xanthia Bianca Johnson, a psychotherapist who works closely with adolescents and families, this method is often counterproductive.

“There’s lots of research that supports the fact that when a child is blamed or shamed—it triggers their nervous system, and when the nervous system is shut down, it is directly connected to the brain,” she said. “The part of the brain that processes logic gets shut off and it can actually stunt physical and emotional growth.”

Wanda Wheeler, a clinical social worker further explained how humiliation-based actions are nothing new. “Consider dunce hats and parents who came to school to spank their children in front of classmates,” she said in the same interview. However, Wheeler also highlighted how children often lack the self-esteem to brush aside embarrassing situations.

“It may have a temporary effect that results in changes in behaviour, but there could also be a deeper or more lasting effect on the child’s self image,” she explained.

On the other end of this narrative, we have Willie Jefferson, a father of two who shaved his 11-year-old son’s head after he misbehaved in class, and the mother of the 10-year-old boy from the picture earlier. For Jefferson, the threat of public humiliation was so effective that his son was on good behaviour several months after he was given the bald patch. “Shaming isn’t bad for children if it teaches respect,” he said. “It taught me respect, it taught my parents respect, it taught my grandparents and great grandparents respect, and that’s what I’m going to stick with.”

As for the boy who was robbed of his smirk earlier, his mother told Fredrick that he had learned his lesson after four days of embarrassment. Heck, he even started calling himself “old man Jenkins” at one point.

This barber is giving ‘old man’ haircuts to punish naughty kids

“He understood why it happened and he rolled with it and allowed it to make him stronger,” Fredrick said. “You gotta reach these kids somehow, and I would gladly do it again.” At the same time, the pioneer warned how the cut should only be used as a last resort.

“I hope that most people won’t have to do this unless it’s an extreme circumstance and nothing else is working,” Frederick advised. “First, you talk or implement your restrictions. But when the conventional ways don’t work these days, you have to get creative.”

Before we call it a day, did we mention that Frederick and his team are offering this service free of charge? Brad Pitt must be lowkey proud that his work in the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is now being used as a novel tool for misbehaving children, am I right?

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