Kids with Natural Hair - Teasing

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My daughter is five and in kindergarten. She is fierce and tough at home, but can be extremely sensitive if she feels like someone is making fun of her.

Last year in preschool, there was a new addition to her class in the spring. Up until then, my daughter would complain about her curly hair to me, but nothing other than saying she wanted it to be long and "lay down" like Rapunzel, so I wasn't too concerned.

When this particular child started, he said something about her "puffy hair" and after that, she refused to wear her hair out, crying that she needed it in a ponytail.

Yesterday she had her hair in a beautiful natural style with a headband. I even made a huge fuss because I'm in LOVE with her hair. When I picked her up from school, she was a little off. My Goddaughters finally got her to admit that someone had picked on her. She told us all that one student pulled her hair, and another told her she had an afro and laughed at her. She did nothing to assert herself.

I told her that she needs to tell these kids to stop and if that doesn't help, then we tell the teacher. I even taught her to say "DON'T DO THAT [insert name here]!" with a mean face. It was the only way I could get her to wear her hair out again today.

Has anyone had experience with that kind of teasing before? I feel angry and I just want to beat these little racist kids. (I know they're probably not racist, but that reaction to natural hair always makes me feel that way, then I remember they're five).

I just want her to love herself. I'm frustrated.
curlyarca and Amneris like this.

That makes me feel sad & angry at the same time. Kids start bullying at such a young age. I posted here a while back about a girl bullying my granddaughter. She went so far as to cut her hair. My daughter had to take her to a salon to get it fixed. They are now best friends. Crazy kids!

I don't think I would fight her about the ponytail, but make sure she wears it down at home. I know that sounds like she's giving into the bullying, but she's only 5 and may not feel comfortable dealing with it the way an older child would. I also think she needs reinforcement from others outside the family as to how beautiful her hair is. Maybe even get online and show her pics of other little girls with hair similar to hers.
Josephine and goldencurly like this.
I had similar experiences in my childhood and really didn't wear my hair down until I was in my 20's. For the record, I'm completely white/caucasian and was at a 99.9% white school.

I don't have much to offer other than you should keep encouraging her, and make sure she has some role models (whether in real life or in the media) with hair like hers that she finds beautiful.
"I don't know! I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!" -BART SIMPSON
I have dealt with the same issues but luckily my parents kept encouraging me to wear my hair down and so I did. I learned how to fight of bullies.

My daughter is 2,5 y/o and way more curly than I am. She is not yet in school but random people will come up to us and make remarks about her kinky hair. And even family members from my mom's (caucasian) side of the family will call her nappy headed with a smile on their face to cover up their snarky comments. Grrrrr
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Keep telling her that her hair is beautiful and unique....and tell the teacher. It seems unlikely to me that your daughter asserting herself will be enough to stop the teasing....at that age the best thing is for those kids' parents to be told about the problem, by the teacher. When I worked with little kids getting reprimanded by the teacher, followed by parents was the only thing to stop really bad behavior.


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Keep telling her that her hair is beautiful and unique....and tell the teacher. It seems unlikely to me that your daughter asserting herself will be enough to stop the teasing....at that age the best thing is for those kids' parents to be told about the problem, by the teacher. When I worked with little kids getting reprimanded by the teacher, followed by parents was the only thing to stop really bad behavior.
Originally Posted by triple_spiral
I think I'll see how today went to determine if I need to write the teacher a note. The hardest part is that one of the kids in question has a sister in her girl scout troop, and they'll be there tonight. I'll be biting my tongue as much as possible...

Keep telling her that her hair is beautiful and unique....and tell the teacher. It seems unlikely to me that your daughter asserting herself will be enough to stop the teasing....at that age the best thing is for those kids' parents to be told about the problem, by the teacher. When I worked with little kids getting reprimanded by the teacher, followed by parents was the only thing to stop really bad behavior.
Originally Posted by triple_spiral
I think I'll see how today went to determine if I need to write the teacher a note. The hardest part is that one of the kids in question has a sister in her girl scout troop, and they'll be there tonight. I'll be biting my tongue as much as possible...
Originally Posted by Munchy
Do you know the mom? I'd mention it to her. She will likely be mortified and address it with the child.

Kids are thoughtless and can be cruel. There's always something they can tease or even conment upon at this age. Keep building up your daughter's sense of self. ((Hugs))
curlyarca likes this.


This is heartbreaking and I'm sorry.

I immediately thought of this blog post which I found through a fellow NCer's blog. My daughter has not been teased for her hair, however, she did go through a phase where she wanted long, "smooth" hair. I have to reassure her that her hair is beautiful, versatile and so many people would love to have hair like hers.
Apart from encouraging her, you should speak to her teacher. Make her aware if she isn't already that this is going on and unacceptable! This is how bullying starts!

And i would hope the teacher talks to the parents of that child. I know that I'd want to know if my child was hurting someone's feelings so I could teach her that it isn't polite.

I'm so sorry - good luck!
I think it's time for little Bk to get hardcore pro-Black.

IMO, it's not something as simple as "curly hair." It's a racial/ethnic/cultural issue and its solution lies in racial awareness.

I would quickly get as many photographs, books, postcards, objects d'art, movies, digital images, etc. of equally fierce-looking Black women (of all colors) w/ natural/kinky/curly/nappy/frizzy/dreded/braided/short hair and rock them al over the house w/ constant references to how beautiful/strong/striking/smart/wonderful/stylish/good/kind/loving and BLACK they are.

She has to love being Black so the comments about her hair are seen as feathers in her already glorious cap, rather than barbs to hurt her.

And I would tell her, very strongly, how to put those kids in their place.

"I'd rather be puffy than flat. In a few years, you'll see."

"Why are you so worried about my hair?"

"I love my puffy hair, too. Thanks"

"My puffy hair looks just like my mommy's"

"The first people on earth had hair just like mine. Now what?"

"You better get outta my face w/ that puffy hair stuff before you get your feelings hurt for real!"

It's all about perception. If she thinks her hair is great (and why wouldn't it be???????), then she won't be hurt by the comments.

I wouldn't get the teachers and parents involved. It will make her look like she has some kind of impediment or flaw she needs help getting other kids to accept. Forget that. Her hair is just as legitimate as any other hair.

Now, if the kids making fun of her a Black, then that's a different story but very manageable, too.
Munchy, Nej, curlyarca and 4 others like this.
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Last edited by spiderlashes5000; 12-18-2012 at 02:43 PM.
Do you know the mom? I'd mention it to her. She will likely be mortified and address it with the child.
Originally Posted by mad scientist
I don't really know her. I've seen her in passing, especially because her little ones were in the private preschool with my daughter last year. If I'm thinking of the right mom, she doesn't speak much English, so communicating may be tough.

My daughter's magnet school is an International Baccalaureate curriculum and the student body reflects it. I'm surprised that it would even come up with so much diversity there.

This is heartbreaking and I'm sorry.

I immediately thought of this blog post which I found through a fellow NCer's blog. My daughter has not been teased for her hair, however, she did go through a phase where she wanted long, "smooth" hair. I have to reassure her that her hair is beautiful, versatile and so many people would love to have hair like hers.
Originally Posted by gemini

Thank you! Reading that blog post helped tremendously. I may even have her listen to the song - I do love India.Arie.

I'll just keep letting her know how beautiful she is, and maybe it would be smart to write a note to the teacher just to let her know so she can keep an eye on it. The thing is, the teacher told me that my daughter is the one that usually makes kids feel better when they're down. Who makes her feel better during the day when SHE'S down?

Spider, the first thing out of my mouth was, you tell those kids "YOU'RE RACIST" but then I thought about it and changed my story.

I just googled pics of kids with natural hair. That's the perfect place to start - other gorgeous little kids with beautiful hair that looks like hers.
Rubber Biscuit likes this.

And grown women too, so it (the tightly curled hair look) is something to aspire to and happily grow into as well
Munchy and Rubber Biscuit like this.
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I'm looking at these "I love my hair" tees and they're awesome. I'm trying to get one for my daughter (and one for me!), and she needs to see this Sesame Street video tonight.

Had the same problem when I was her age. Except my mom made we wear my hair in little plaits, braids, or twists. I have no suggestions, but wanted to extend empathy. Good luck.

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I'm looking at these "I love my hair" tees and they're awesome. I'm trying to get one for my daughter (and one for me!), and she needs to see this Sesame Street video tonight.
Originally Posted by Munchy
I love the t-shirt idea. I want one. I rarely wear it curly now, but it would be fun to wear one when I do.

I also like the idea of talking to the teacher. I think she should be aware of what is happening so she can watch for it. If she catches this going on she can then put a stop to it without it looking like your daughter is snitching.
I think it's time for little Bk to get hardcore pro-Black.

IMO, it's not something as simple as "curly hair." It's a racial/ethnic/cultural issue and its solution lies in racial awareness.

I would quickly get as many photographs, books, postcards, objects d'art, movies, digital images, etc. of equally fierce-looking Black women (of all colors) w/ natural/kinky/curly/nappy/frizzy/dreded/braided/short hair and rock them al over the house w/ constant references to how beautiful/strong/striking/smart/wonderful/stylish/good/kind/loving and BLACK they are.

She has to love being Black so the comments about her hair are seen as feathers in her already glorious cap, rather than barbs to hurt her.

And I would tell her, very strongly, how to put those kids in their place.

"I'd rather be puffy than flat. In a few years, you'll see."

"Why are you so worried about my hair?"

"I love my puffy hair, too. Thanks"

"My puffy hair looks just like my mommy's"

"The first people on earth had hair just like mine. Now what?"

"You better get outta my face w/ that puffy hair stuff before you get your feelings hurt for real!"

It's all about perception. If she thinks her hair is great (and why wouldn't it be???????), then she won't be hurt by the comments.

I wouldn't get the teachers and parents involved. It will make her look like she has some kind of impediment or flaw she needs help getting other kids to accept. Forget that. Her hair is just as legitimate as any other hair.

Now, if the kids making fun of her a Black, then that's a different story but very manageable, too.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
I love this post! This would be great for kids my daughter's age...10, yep, tell them off! lol

But for little ones, I just don't know. I don't think they mean anything by it other than her hair looks puffy. If they were older I would think, yea, these kids got issues with kinky curly hair, but not kids this young.

But ITA with all of the rest. Show your daughter pics of other little kids with beautiful hair and help her learn to love her own! I'm so glad i never ran into this with my daughter. She almost always wears twists and the times she's worn it out (big and puffy!), she gets comments from white kids asking her how she did her hair, or from white teachers telling her her hair is beautiful. She's never been insulted to my knowledge TG.
mrspoppers likes this.
Hair out is a weird concept to me. I never wore my hair out as a kid - or very rarely, and never to school. If I had a little girl, I'm not sure I'd send her to school with her hair out because the combing, styling etc. would be insane!

That being said, my son has had the same issue - kids making fun of his hair. Only I guess he is empowered in the way spidey describes, because he likes his hair big and puffy and gets upset when I get it cut (I think I'm going to let him fro out soon - the only reason I haven't is because he likes puffy hair, but not the combing and maintenance of it.) He tells me that when kids make fun of his hair he tells them "I like my hair. It looks good. You shut up."

I pretty much did what spidey described - pictures and images of Black people, expose him to lots of Black people and diversity in general, tell him how awesome he is the way he is, etc.

I'm sorry your daughter is going through this. I agree with everything spidey said, except that if it continues, I would tell the teacher and/or the kids' parents, if only to gauge whether they take it seriously or are part of the problem.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











My 15 year old white daughter has hair issues too. She has 2C/3A hair, like me, and it gets a bit big/puffy sometimes. I think it's glorious. Apparently, the white girls in school think only the flattest-of-flat straight hair is acceptable and that anything else is "frizzy". I told her to tell them to shut-up-and-stop-being-jealous. She feels too intimidated to do that though. Instead, she washes and irons it every night and frets about whether she's frizzy or not.
I'm so sorry your daughter is faced with this. I was picked on for my hair a lot growing up (I'm caucasian and people have questioned my race because of the curliness of my hair) and as I got older it really affected my self esteem & caused anxiety (I still have anxiety about my hair to this day & I'm 32). I agree with others that say to reinforce the positives at home, show her pictures of others w/curly hair, never hesitate to tell her she's beautiful. I'd also clue the teacher in. Maybe just send her a note & ask her to keep a close eye on your daughters interactions w/others because its affecting her outside of school.

I too have a daughter, who is 7, and gets comments on the curliness of her hair. She very recently went thru a phase where she wanted to wear a ponytail everyday so that her hair wouldn't get "poofy". We had to get it trimmed & its too short for a ponytail now, so she's very aware of it and asks to spray it down (with conditioner water) mid-day at times. She has beautiful hair and I don't want her to be self-conscious about hers like I am of mine, but I fear that's the path we're headed down. I try not to make a big deal out of it and try to make her feel beautiful hoping that she'll someday be comfortable with it. I try to emphasize that different isn't bad. Unique is good.

I don't understand why curly hair is a target. I hope the kids teasing your daughter knock it off. Kids should be carefree, not plagued with worries. Good luck, keep us posted.

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