Hair-Raising Discipline

It's a parent's nightmare and an age-old problem. Mom and dad find out their son has gotten in trouble. Or his grades are dropping. Or he's showing disrespect.

Parents resort to so many different tactics to enforce rules and enact discipline. One barber in metro Atlanta thinks he has the solution - right there in his shop.

Three days a week, parents can take their misbehaving kids to A-1 Kutz and ask for the “Benjamin Button Special,” which Russell Fredrick and his team of barbers are offering — free of charge — to parents who want to try a novel form of discipline.

The cut involves shaving hair off the child’s crown until he begins to resemble a balding senior citizen, inviting that unique brand of adolescent humiliation that can only come from teasing classmates and unwanted attention.

Supporters say it’s the perfect punishment for misbehaving kids who want to “act grown.”

Fredrick, the A-1 Kutz co-owner and a 34-year-old father of three, said he decided to advertise the cut after he used the unique disciplinary measure on his 12-year-old son, Rushawn, last fall — and saw immediate results. Rushawn’s grades, which had fallen, “dramatically skyrocketed” after he got his old-man haircut, Frederick said.

The boss barber said he has already had one parent take him up on the offer.

On one local newscast, Fredrick also referred to the cut as the "George Jefferson," and the, um, style has gone viral.

Fredrick said he was surprised by the attention the photo garnered, but he thinks he knows why his alternative disciplinary measure struck a chord: Cases like the one involving Adrian Peterson – the NFL star who was charged with child abuse after spanking his 4-year-old son with a tree branch — have forced many parents to reevaluate they way they bring order to their households, Fredrick said.

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“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.”

As much support as Fredrick has gotten for his unique discipline -- and clever marketing -- idea, there are plenty of naysayers as well.

Xanthia Bianca Johnson, a Washington-based psychotherapist who works closely with adolescents and families, told The Post that in her experience, using shame as a disciplinary tool is often counterproductive. When children misbehave, she said, they’re letting parents know that they’re in distress. The goal of effective discipline, she said, is giving children an opportunity to reflect on their mistakes; that, she said, becomes increasingly hard to do if they’re “distracted” by blame and shame.

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Douglas Gotel, a clinical social worker and credentialed play therapist, said different communities rely on different disciplinary measures, but in his experience shame and humiliation build resentment and erode self-esteem over time.

What do you think? Are offbeat disciplinary ideas effective, or do they simply serve as an embarrassment?

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Image courtesy of Instagram/rusty_fred