A Slide Show on Cluelessness: 3 year-olds at the spa

How is this money better used? You tell me.

The International Spa Association, which tracks industry trends, said that 25 percent of the country’s approximately 20,000 spas now offer services specifically for the under-13 set — up from 15 percent just four years ago. And half of all spas offer services for teenagers, up from a third over the same time period.

Some are new businesses focused exclusively on children, while others have expanded into the child market, offering kid-friendly music, banana-scented facials and an age-appropriate vocabulary — customers are “princesses” and toes are “pigglies.”

The spa association’s president, Lynne McNees, said it was good for girls to learn that beauty treatments can reduce stress and promote health. “It’s very similar to taking little kids to the dentist. Ms. McNees said. “Let’s get them early, and get those really good habits.SPAGIRLS-SS-slide-XN8K-jumbo

Most of the child-oriented spas make their money on birthday party packages, billing the events as sophisticated alternatives to a day of pizza and Skee-Ball at the local Chuck E. Cheese. At one New York-area chain, Seriously Spoiled Salon and Spa, parties cost $500 to $3,000, and options include a “bath-bakery” experience, with lotions that smell like edible treats. (Tag line: “Where the main ingredient is you.”)

Lisa Gadzinski, 48, and her sister opened Seriously Spoiled on Long Island in 2008. The business, based in Patchogue, N.Y., has not only weathered the recession, but thrived, expanding to two more locations. Several clients are single fathers, lost in the world of girl-care, who bring in their daughters, Ms. Gadzinski said.

“Don’t we all want to spoil our children?” she asked.

But in the debate over modern parenting, the answer is not always yes.

“Oh my God,” said Christine Carter, a sociologist and the author of “Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.” “What are we coming to? Spas for our children?” She cautioned parents against sending their offspring to places where they are told, “We’re going to treat you like a Kardashian.”

Madeline Levine, a child psychologist and author, called the child spa “the worst idea ever.”


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