Punishing Kids With Old Man Haircuts Is An Awful (But Adorable) Idea

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“So u wana act grown…well now u look grown too,” writes Atlanta barber Russell Frederick, who is now offering to give kids “old man” haircuts as a new sort of punishment.

The “Benjamin Button” haircut is designed to make little boys look like little old men. You can see the results on one unhappy-looking kid above. Frederick told The Washington Post that he did it to his son when his son’s grades started getting bad. Frederick says his son’s grades improved after the humiliating haircut, so he started offering the service free to other parents at his barbershop, A-1 Cuts.

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

Frederick says at least one mother has taken him up on the offer, and others have inquired. He also says the public response to the photos on Instagram has been generally positive, and I can actually see why. This punishment seems like a creative way to cut a kid who is too big for his britches back down to kid-size, and on top of that it is really damn cute, and thus shareable on the Internet. That little boy looks adorable. But I wouldn’t think it was funny if it were happening to me, and it doesn’t seem like the kid thinks so either.

The Benjamin Button haircut seems like another ill-conceived attempt to find a “funny” way to punish a kid in order to make an image go viral and get some parent a ton of money or attention. Personally, I hate that. I don’t advocate public shaming as any kind of punishment, and this is basically putting a sign on your kid that says, “Mock Me, Peers.” That seems like the last way to get a kid to fix behavior problems. If anything, subjecting them to teasing and bullying by classmates seems like it would just make kids act out even more.

However, Frederick maintains that it worked for his son, and for the boy in the top photo. After four days with the old man haircut, that boy promised to stop misbeahving and his mother brought him back to have it fixed. That boy had reportedly embraced the haircut and started calling himself, “Old Man Jenkins,” but he said he wasn’t going to act up anymore because he “didn’t want that kind of trouble.”

Photo: Instagram/Rusty_Fred