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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