By Leah Fletcher
Lynne Francis has fond memories of sitting between her mother’s knees and having her hair styled. Francis, a school teacher, recalls the engaging conversations about her day, her activities and her aspirations. While the conversation was a time to bond, Francis also remembers it was a great learning experience because it was during these sessions, she not only learned the art of grooming, but she also learned how to love her hair.
What Francis, who has two daughters of her own, learned from her experience is that “hair styling can be an enjoyable routine for youngsters with the right approach.” Most children, she said, would rather do anything than to get their hair styled. “We have all dealt with the frustration of chasing fleeing children with a comb and brush in hand,” said the elementary school teacher, who offers, several steps parents can take to make daily hair care a good experience for children of all ages.
Don’t rush the process
When organizing your time, Francis believes you should place hair combing at the end of the list.
There will be problems, she said, especially if you are dealing with a child who doesn’t like to get her hair styled. Schedule enough time so you don’t have to hurry and patiently tackle any tangles. Francis admits that she found it more effective to style her daughters’ hair at night and cover with a satin cap for sleeping. “In the morning, a quick touch-up with a brush was all that was needed,” she said.
Find ways to amuse them
Hopefully, you are creating a hairstyle that doesn’t take much time. Francis points out that children generally tend to have short attention spans. She advised that you “be prepared to amuse them with some form of electronics, books, movies and snacks, especially, if the hairstyle you are creating requires a significant amount of time.” Hairstyles that include braids or cornrows might take hours to complete, Francis said. However, their advantage is longevity and you won’t have to redo them for up to two weeks.
Opt for gentle tools
Using the wrong tools might be painful. Tools that work well for young children are wide-tooth, plastic or wood combs and natural boar bristle brushes. But, be careful not to pull on tangles or brush too vigorously. According to Francis, it’s always a good idea to begin combing at the bottom of the hair and working your way up toward the scalp. When brushing the hair, use gentle strokes to make your way through natural hair.
Select easy go-to hairstyles
Because you can be pressed for time in the mornings, Francis advised finding go-to hairstyles that are quick and easy to create. For daily grooming, she suggested ponytails, braids, buns or afro puffs. Such styles don’t require long sitting times and are reasonable, especially, if you have more than one head of hair to do.
Bolster their hair self-esteem
Francis acknowledged that bolstering a child’s self-esteem is important. In her estimation, children are like sponges and they absorb so much of what they hear. “If they only hear that their hair is “bad” and unmanageable, that’s what they will believe and then they will view hair grooming as a very negative process,” the educator explained.
When children learn to love their hair, Francis ventured, they would actually begin to look forward to getting it combed and brushed, and they would not view it as a laborious task. “No matter the texture of a child’s hair, use positive words to describe it,” said Francis, who also advised not comparing children’s hair, especially if their textures are different and one appears easier to manage. “It is important to find something positive to say such as “Your hair is soft like cotton or velvet” or “It is pretty”. In the end, it can determine how much they love their hair and themselves, held the elementary school educator.