One of the last times that I went to get my box braids installed, there was the cutest little girl there. She couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 and her mom wanted her to get some feed-in cornrows. I must admit that I kind of chuckled to myself because before the braider even touched the child’s hair, she winced and said, “Ouch”. Yeah, I definitely have this theory that some little girls aren’t as tender-headed as they profess to be; they simply don’t want their hair combed. But once the braider actually began and I saw the little girl’s eyes start to well up, a feeling of empathy came over me. Although I’m a grown woman and not really all that tender-headed at all, sometimes the parting and “catching” of tiny hairs can be a bit uncomfortable, even for me.
“Maybe y’all should blow it out first,” I heard myself say. I could tell that even though the little girl’s hair appeared to be clean and detangled, it was not. As the mom and the braiders considered doing just that, I thought about my eight-year-old goddaughter who also has a tendency to “show out” when it’s time to get her hair done.
I’m pretty sure that a lot of curly-haired girls across the world would like nothing more than to never have a styling tool in their hair again. But in honor of the moms, stylists, and aunties like me who love them too much for them to go out looking crazy, if there’s a little girl in your world who is tender-headed, here are some styling tips that can make life easier; hopefully, for you both.
Wait until they are in a good mood.
If there is no other takeaway that you use from this, I really hope this one sticks. With schedules being as hectic as they are, a lot of us have a “get in where you fit in” approach to styling our little one’s hair. But if we’re tired and they aren’t in the best of moods, that can truly create the perfect storm. That’s why it’s a good idea to not wait until they are sleepy or already irritable. Instead, try and do their hair right after they wake up or they’ve done something that they enjoy. If they are in a good mood, that will put them in a bit of a “mind over matter” headspace. They still probably won’t be thrilled with getting their hair done, but at least you won’t be starting with them already on the wrong (emotional) foot.
Make sure they are preoccupied.
If a tender-headed little girl is sitting in a chair, in a quiet room, with nothing but the sound of you sighing and a comb racking through their hair, it’s gonna be a long day for both of you. That said, no matter how much a child may hate to get their hair done, it’s easier to get them to compromise with you if they are watching a favorite show and/or eating a snack. It might seem like you are bribing them, but the more they are thinking about having fun, the less you will have to deal with them wiggling, trying to move away and possibly even crying (which is the absolute worst, right?).
Detangle with fingers as much as possible.
This point right here is something that we should apply to our own hair as much as children. A part of the reason why kids are so tender-headed is that a lot of us sit them down and start yanking away with a comb. And on dry hair, no less. Things will go by a heck of a lot more smoothly if you have a spray bottle with some water and leave-in conditioner in it. Then, after lightly spraying her hair, first, use your fingers to get out any tangles or knots. You can even distract her a bit by encouraging her to use her own hands to feel for any hair that is tangled up.
Work from ends to roots.
It’s going to be a lot more difficult to complete the detangling process if you start from the roots. If you want to not create more of a mess and, if you also want to prevent hair breakage, it is much better to work from the ends of her hair, up to her roots. Try and use your fingers as much as possible at first. Then, on the second pass, use a wide-tooth comb. (Remember to still apply some leave-inif you need to during this process as well.)
Use the right products and styling tools.
When you’re dealing with a tender-headed curly-haired girl, the products and styling tools that you use are just as important as your technique. I already gave a shout-out to leave-in conditioners and wide-tooth combs, but you should also have detangling shampoos and conditioners; some sweet almond, avocado or grapeseed oil; vegetable glycerin; a detangling brushand non-elastic hair ties (ones that have no metal on them because metal closures can also pull on her hair).Vegetable glycerin, especially, is a good way to give your little girl’s hair some “slip” and moisture so that her tresses are easier to work through.
Something that I think is important for all adults to do when it comes to interacting with kids is to try and put ourselves in their shoes. I know I remember when I loathed getting my hair pressed. Wash day wasn’t always the most thrilling either. Remembering these types of things before I put my hands in a child’s head helps me to try different approaches, to distract them with jokes and to not get frustrated when it feels like they are doing any and everything in the world but working with me. This brings me to the last point.
If you’ve got a tender-headed child on your hands and you only have 10 minutes before you need to get somewhere, resign yourself to the fact that doing her hair is gonna be a tug of war. Come to think of it, if you find yourself rushing a lot, it might be best to put her hair into a protective style, so that all you have to do is take off her scarf or bonnet and head out the door. But if you do decide to be her “stylist”, out of all of the things that I shared, never forget that patience is key. By going slow, being intentional about remaining calm even when she’s not and even taking mini-breaks when needed—while it might seem like it’s taking forever to finish up her hair, you will get it done; virtually drama-free.
Are you a mom of curly kid? What are your top tips that have helped you when caring your childs hair? Let us know in the comments below.