I don’t yet have kids, but I do have two lovely nieces with thick, lush heads of natural hair. And I have my memories of being their age, and knowing my hair was something to be “dealt with.” “Tackled.” “Tamed.” You may already know my hair journey from reading this blog — like so many girls around the world, I got my first relaxer when I was six years old.

When I tell some people that, they gasp or seem surprised by how young I was. But the majority of folks aren’t surprised at all. Because they probably went through the same thing at that age, and now it seems that little girls are getting their hair chemically straightened even earlier than ever before.

Image comes from bell hooks classic children's book Happy To Be Nappy

About a year ago, I saw a little girl at an electronics store with her parents. The first thing I noticed was how long her relaxed hair was — it was midway down her back! The second thing I noticed was how thin and lifeless her hair was, and how I could see the shine of her scalp through her hair. She couldn’t have been more than four. I was horrified then, but a recent conversation with a grade school teacher here in Chicago left me downright depressed. This teacher came up to me at a Christmas party and asked me “how do I talk to the parents at my school?” Why? Because she says every little girl in her third grade class either has a relaxer or a weave already, or wants one more than anything else.

Recently I was interviewed by Karyn Parsons (!!!) on her new MadameNoire.com web series Mommy in Chief, all about kids and natural hair.

Click here to see!

One of the main points I was trying to hammer home there was the importance of self esteem, and how parents can instill that into their kids from such an early age.

But like I said earlier, I’m not a mom yet so I can’t speak from experience. So I turned the question over to Facebook, and got some GREAT responses. Click here to read all of the natural hair tips shared on my Afrobella Facebook wall. And below, I’ll share a few of my own.

This photo comes from Madame Noire’s helpful post Black Hair Tips for Kids.

– Familiarize yourself with natural hair sites dedicated to kids, like Happy Girl Hair and Girls Love Your Curls — great advice and styling tips to be found!

– When you’re ready to begin, choose a sensible time. Don’t wait until an hour before church when you’re gonna be late. Plan a convenient time, well before you need to be somewhere. Now prepare your little one. Has your daughter taken a nap? Had a snack? Had a drink? Gone potty? OK. Then it’s time to begin!

– Make hair combing seem like FUN, not work. Not a challenge. Let her know it’s time to take tender loving care of her crowning glory and there’s no reason to dread doing it.

– Give your little one something to DO. Some parents give their girls a book or a favorite toy. Some parents use a favorite movie or cartoon, or a handheld video game. Some parents include their child in the process and let them detangle their own hair (carefully and under supervision, of course). You have to decide what works best for both of you!

– Watch what you say and how you act. Exasperated sighs, escalating voices, and statements that make your child’s hair seem like a heavy burden and a bother — those things penetrate. Be PATIENT.

– Find the right products. Cara B Naturally is a great company that focuses exclusively on little girl hair and their products are about to be available at Target soon — January 20! Visit www.mycarab.com for details! Shea Moisture is also available at Target and has a great product made for kids.

– Reinforce that her natural hair is beautiful with toys, books and images that let her know there are others who look like her. bell hooks book is a classic, and the trend of making Barbies with natural hair is also a great way to take an existing toy, and making it more relatable to your little girl!

For more advice (from real moms!) click to read.

What’s your best advice for moms dealing with their little girls hair?

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Nil says:
January 5, 2012, 9:40 am
Great article! Remember though, it isn't just little girls that this is geared towards. I have a 2.5 year old little boy with hair that comes to the middle of his back when loose. Often people think that if you have a boy you have to get them a low cut. There are options for our fellas too!
Daphne says:
January 5, 2012, 9:56 am
I have two beautiful little girls. As they get older I find it more challenging not to manage but to style. Age appropriate - long lasting styles for me are key. Once I find a style my 7 yr old likes I feel like I won a prize.
Mama J says:
January 5, 2012, 10:44 am
I have two beautiful daughters, 12-years-old and 6-years-old, with two heads full of natural hair. Their hair is a lot of work, but SO worth it. I have always praised their hair, and styled it for them in a variety of ways so that they know how versatile and wonderful it is. The picture you have above of the back of a little girl's head could be one of mine when they were younger - that's a style we've worked often. It's true that there seems to be an age - somewhere between 7 and 13 when they styles that worked when they were younger look too little girlish, and the natural styles that look great on women are too mature and aren't appropriate for the running and playing that still happens at that age. I found that two strand twists were my savior at this age. They can be worn out and loose, or can be pulled into a pony tail or buns easily. For my older daughter, as her friends started regularly getting relaxers or their hair pressed, she wanted the experience of wearing her hair out and down around her shoulders like they did. With twists, she could do this - but also knew her hairstyle didn't get in the way of her life the way her friends' hair did. With twists she could run through the sprinklers or jump in the pool without worrying about what a little moisture would do. She loved the twists and their look, ease and versatility so much that this year she committed to letting them loc. The journey we are on of locing her hair has been wonderful for us both as we discover new things about the texture of her hair. After trying tons of different products on my girls hair, I've found that what works best is either plain coconut oil, or a whipped combination of coconut oil and shea butter. Leaves hair healthy and shiny, but not weighed down or greasy looking. Time with my daughters and their hair is such an integral part of mothering them that I will miss it one day when they are off on their own. As difficult and tiring as it can be sometimes, I have to say that I can't even imagine regularly putting their heads in someone else's hands. Every once in a while, as a break for me and a treat for them, I'll take them to salon - but I couldn't imagine doing it all the time. For me, it would be like letting a stranger come in and read them bedtime stories instead of doing it myself.
Donna says:
January 5, 2012, 10:47 am
I do these tips, involving my child in the process & re-affirming how beautiful her hair is. I do this on a regular basis w/my 10 year old beauty! :)
Doreen says:
January 5, 2012, 2:03 pm
I read with interest and really enjoyed the article about doing childrens hair and was particularly drawn to the statement about relaxing childrens hair around the world.I am from the UK and relaxing childrens hair is quite rare here and as for other parts of the world, I obviously can't speak for other countries, but I know alot of small countries probaly wouldn't be able to get the kits, never mind relaxing it.
Sherry Blossom says:
January 5, 2012, 11:31 pm
Great article. I have a 5 year old son and he gets regular haircuts for no other reason than he likes getting his hair cut with his dad. Up until 1.5 years old his hair grew freely. It wasn't long and it definitely was coily. Every one was trying to convince me to cut it. I only cut my sons hair when I felt I was ready too and again for no other reason than he wanted to experience the barber just like his dad. Well he's 5 now and he's had a dark caesar, a light caesar, even a mohawk. It's just hair. I was 12 when my hair was first relaxed and I begged for it. I can remember my aunt saying "if you don't wear a scarf ever night your hair will fall out" well my hair did fall out even with wearing a scarf and I hated my hair. I began to transition on Mothers Day 2010. I have been au natural for almost 9.5 months now and I'm happy. If I could talk to every little girl I'd say love you as you are, because you're beautiful no alterations necessary. Great clip and great article!
kateanderson says:
January 6, 2012, 3:04 am
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Lakitha says:
January 6, 2012, 9:32 pm
My hairstylist is an advocate against relaxing children's hair. He stated that many kids suffer damage to the hair and scalp because their bodies are constantly developing physiologically. He also stated that many parents are negligent in caring for the hair of their children once it has been relaxed often leading to damage and excessive breakage.
A Porter says:
January 7, 2012, 12:10 am
I treated myself to a natural hair styling lesson by Dickey at his salon Hair Rules in NYC. I comb my own and my daughter's hair ONLY when it is 'juicy' with conditioner. Then add a styling product to our very wet hair to set our newly defined curls. I can sit under a dryer for 15 minutes if the styling product is white. Walk out the door if the styling product is clear and its warm outside. My daughter is 16 months. I use the dryer only on special occasions. We mustly do wash and wear.
Alex says:
January 7, 2012, 2:42 am
My girlfriend tried out this hair oil once - http://www.topproductsplace.com/hair.php Now it's her favourite, she has a strong, thick and silky hair.
Sherry says:
January 7, 2012, 12:56 pm
I purchased this book years ago for my daughter who is now 14. I love it, although at the time neither one of us was natural but NOW both us are...me coming up 2 yrs in August and my teen cutie pie will be coming up 1 yr in May
ChristinnA says:
January 9, 2012, 8:37 pm
I also read that book few months ago. It's a good one with a lot of tips. Personally, for my hair I'm using a natural oil and I have great results. I don't want to spam this section. Who is interested can click my name and see details. Have a nice day and have a nice hair girls :)
dailycurlz says:
January 12, 2012, 11:12 pm
I have two daughters with curly hair and they used to hate their hair, because they want "straight hair" like their mom, and after i become natural they are so happy and proud and unique to have curly hair
Leanne says:
January 25, 2012, 1:33 pm
Hi I have a 1yr old lil girl when she wad born she had a beautiful head of hair. She lost all the hair from the front, sides n back at 5months. Now 1yr it doesn't grow or keep moister. Can u offer any advice to a mum pulling her hair out
Scarlett says:
April 1, 2012, 11:13 am
I am 12 years old and was very disturb from my thin hairs, These tips are also good but please can you tell me some other tips to maintain my thin hairs. Thanks
Hair Tips says:
May 15, 2012, 10:01 am
Hey dear i wall really upset due to my hair but after reading these tips i am feeling well and will apply these tips on my daily life. Thanks
Ashley says:
July 26, 2012, 12:30 am
I love to do my daughters hair. Occasionally I get to use bows. Check out these Bows for girls.
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naturalhairBEGINNER says:
July 28, 2013, 4:05 pm
My daughter is 18 months, and I'm having trouble with her hair growth. I want to begin her natural hair journey. Any advice?
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