Help her be confident with her curls.
Every child is teased for one thing or another when they’re growing up.
For kids with curls and kinks, those jibes may be focused on their hair. However, building your curly’s self-confidence is key to helping the child handle taunting comments.
“Their hair is a wonderful part of who they are,” says Titi Branch, one of the founders of Miss Jessie’s Salon and hair care products in Brooklyn, N.Y. “You have to help them understand that connection.”
For example, Branch remembers the confidence of a young curly client, who was taught early to embrace his curls.
“One of the kids at school gave him a weird look and said, ‘Why is your hair like that?’ The little boy said, ‘Well, that’s what makes me special,’” recalls Branch. “He already had a confidence that was built up, so when he encountered those situations at school, he was ready.”
Curl experts share five steps to raising a confident curly.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
“Get knowledgeable, just like you would with anything else that you’re concerned about with your child,” says Betty Di Salvo, stylist and partner of The Curl Ambassadors in Toronto, Ontario, a salon specializing in curly hair.
You can develop that knowledge by searching the Internet, speaking to stylists and reading books written by curl experts, such as Lorraine Massey’s "Curly Girl" and Diane DaCosta’s "Textured Tresses."
“The parent has a big responsibility to learn about curly hair — who has it in the family and how they got it — because that’s what they have to teach their child,” DaCosta says. “There are so many products to help you right now. Whatever you want, it’s there and very accessible.”
For example, Miss Jessie’s salon created a Baby Buttercreme product, made especially for kids with kinky-textured tresses.
“I think mommies with kids who have kinkier textures struggle with what they’re going to use. If their mommy doesn’t know how to do their hair, these kids can go through a lot of trauma,” Branch says. “For interracial couples, if the mommy is white or has straighter hair than her kids, suddenly they have to learn to style hair they’re not really used to.”
Stylists urge parents to learn as much as possible about their child’s curls so they can pass on that knowledge to their young curly.
2. TEACH YOUR TYKE
“It is most important for parents to take the right steps to caring for curly hair,” says Christo, curl expert and Global Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue salon. “For example, if they don't have curly hair themselves, they should research how the right tools and methods to help them style their children’s locks — as well as teach them how. This way curly kids can love their curls and it makes life a little easier.”
“Let them feel the empowerment that they can actually control their curls,” adds Di Salvo. “When I started to educate my daughter, Laura — who is now 12 — I saw the difference almost overnight as far as how she felt about her hair. She used to want to straighten it all the time and I got her to feel comfortable with her curls based on the information I shared.”
Experts say it’s critical to engage your curly in the process of grooming and caring for their hair as early as possible.
“Buy products that are especially for their hair, so they can have fun in the process, too,” Branch says.
Even if your curlies are too young to manage their own mane, Di Salvo encourages parents to showcase their child’s curly locks, rather than stifle them.
“Let them wear their curls naturally,” Di Salvo says. “Don’t pin it up, don’t pull it back, don’t make them feel like they’ve got to hide it. Parents are sending subliminal messages when they’re pulling their child’s hair back and hiding it in ponytails, barrettes and braids. If the parent isn’t comfortable with their child’s hair, how is the child going to be comfortable?”