Tame those tangled tresses.

A day of outdoor play can often lead to a night of dreaded detangling, especially for curly kids.

But think twice the next time you consider putting it off yet another day, just to avoid a tantrum from your tyke. Stylists say using the right products, tools and tactics can painlessly transform tangled tresses into smooth, soft curls.

“Kids get knotty hair because of their play habits, so it’s important to comb and detangle their hair frequently,” says Cozy Friedman, owner of New York’s Cozy’s Cuts for Kids. “It’s really something you have to keep up with.”

Experts suggest tackling tangles as soon as you spot them instead of waiting until your child is in the tub.

“I encourage parents to use a detangler on dry hair to keep it tangle-free between washings,” says Eleanor Keare, owner of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Circle of Friends, which produces a hair-care line for kids. “If you use a drugstore brand on dry hair it can get greasy or oily, and weigh down the curls. But a good quality detangler, like those you find in a salon, will work very effectively on dry hair.”

In her salon, Friedman is constantly barraged with questions about tangles. In an effort to simplify the process for parents, she just introduced the “It Takes Two to Detangle Kit“, which includes an instruction guide, Lucky Lime Pre-detangling Treatment, Fruity Delight Detangler & Leave-In Conditioner, a rubber ducky (for a fun distraction in the tub”>, and a wide-tooth comb with rounded edges and a convenient hook handle.

“It’s important to use a wide-tooth comb because it works through the hair more easily with less damage,” Friedman says. Even before you pick up that comb, Keare suggests gently seizing those snarled locks while you shampoo.

“Keep in mind, pouring shampoo directly on the child’s scalp and working up a lather creates a lot of unnecessary tangles,” Keare says. “Instead, parents should put the shampoo in their hands first, work it into a lather and then apply it to the child’s scalp and hair, using their fingers like a comb to work it through. If the child has the patience to use a rinse-out conditioner, that’s helpful. If not, or if you don’t have the time for that extra step in the bathtub, use a leave-in conditioner.”

And for the knottiest nests, Margo Bower of The Hair’s Lair in Austin, Texas, suggests a creamy conditioner—and plenty of it.