“Mommy, I love my hair!” Those words tumbled out of my three year old’s mouth, out of the blue, as she hugged my thigh and dreamily looked up at me with her big eyes. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror preparing myself for the day. I looked down at her in admiration. Although I’d like to share with you the utterly poignant words that could have come out of my mouth, I honestly can’t remember! Nothing I said could have matched that! A three year old? This moment was special! Her words and her acceptance of who she is - as she is - seemed to have transported me into a higher stratosphere. What I uttered did not stick. What she said stuck with me! I just have to share with you why I think she uttered those words. Read on!
Many of us remember those Saturdays back in the day. “Mumbi, come here, it’s time to get your hair done.” My Mom had three of our heads to deal with! I don’t know how she did it. I remember when my older sister and I were around 6 and 7 respectively, we asked our mother to cut our hair. No sooner had the words left our mouths, than scissors hastily appeared out of thin air and settled into the job of chopping off my mother’s weekend woes. I’m sure she had a nice glass of potent wine later to celebrate!
Grooming curly, coily hair can be a challenge. This is no news to most of us. It is dry, especially at the ends. It is matted, especially where there is new growth. The comb cannot get in at the bottom close to the scalp, neither can it get through the ends! This is frustrating for most of us. Our children also get caught up in the same dilemma becoming afraid of their hair and wanting to change it for a ‘better experience’ or a ‘prettier look’.
Salon stylists have shared stories about children as young as one and two years having their matted hair chemically treated (permed) to make it easier for their desperate mothers to manage. I’ll never forget the visual of a young girl maybe six or so years old, crying loudly in pain as her hair was groomed and styled in the salon. In some instances the mothers are even asked to step out to make it easier for the stylist to do her job. Some mothers can even be turned away if their child’s hair looks too thick, dry and matted.
It is stressful for stylists to handle a wailing child with a sore scalp. It is painful all around! Words that you hear associated with curly, coily hair include: kinky, nappy, hard, steel wool and so on! Wow! All that sounds scary. So, what to do?
My daughter’s hair is over 5 inches long now. You can’t quite tell when it’s combed out in a thick afro because it is super coily. It can be very dry and difficult to comb but I have some tricks under my belt that have helped me and I think they will help you too.
- Always tell her that she has beautiful, soft, curly or coily hair and how pretty she is!
- Don’t fuss about her looking prim and proper all the time. A shaggy head sometimes is ok, especially if you’re just staying home! Get her to practice her sight words, her numbers or read some books to her.
- Don’t try to do it ALL at the same time. Remove braids, detangle, comb, cleanse, moisturize and style!!! It might take too long and she will not like it one little bit!
- Do her hair in stages:
Friday: take those shaggy braids out! Generously spray a great detangler on her hair too. You can do a little detangling depending on how long it takes you to undo her braids. Use your fingers! Make a few pig tails (keep it simple!).
Saturday: Comb and cleanse her hair. As long as you don’t tangle it again when cleansing you should be able to style it. Make a simple hair style for Saturday. Enjoy the positive bonding experience!
Any other day: Then if she will let you, braid it or have someone else she likes braid her hair for you on another day. Whichever day works. In the meantime, keep it simple. Remember with each stage, less is more. Especially for your little girl’s psyche! It’s easy to whip up the hair into some quick pig tails. She will love you for this! And these little girls are just too cute regardless of what you may choose to do with their hair!
Don’t wash her hair too often. Curly, coily dry hair doesn’t like being bothered and stripped too much! If you do, use a moisturizing cleanser and remember to add an efffective oil based moisturizer to her hair. Some really good oils that you can consider include: Coconut oil, Shea butter, Palm oil, Olive Oil are all great. Also find a leave in conditioner or mist with humectant like glycerin to keep moisture in her hair. Settle into some easy to do hair styles and keep them nicely moisturized. She will love you for this!
As Always, make it fun!!
Please comment with your questions or thoughts about caring for your child’s hair. I always have a good time with my daughter. “Mommy, I love my hair” is all I needed to hear to know that I’m doing something right!