I’m a mom of three black children, and we spend a lot of time doing hair each week. This includes washing, conditioning, detangling, moisturizing, and styling.
Children love taking pride in themselves, and their parents can help instill pride in children by including the children in hair care routines. Here are five ways parents can include their young black child:
1. Read books.
There are many fantastic books about hair, and reading these to children not only promotes self-esteem and racial pride, but also fosters an excellent bonding time. Some of our favorite books include I Love My Hair and Bippity Bop Barbershop (both by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley), Penny and the Magic Puffballs (Alonda Williams), Chocolate Me (Taye Diggs), and Haircuts at Sleepy Sam’s (Michael Strickland).
Go to the store together and select hair care products, hair accessories, and hair tools. Let your child smell the products, help you choose things like ballies, beads, and barrettes, and talk about what the different hair tools do. You can also online shop together for products and items like sleep caps and satin pillowcases. Our current favorite online company is Africa Sleeps; the products are made by a mom who adopted her four kids transracially.
Look at Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and black hair blogs together to find styles you like. Some of my favorite black hair bloggers include Natural Hair Mag, Natural Hair Rules!, and Natural Hair Kids. You can also browse black magazines such as Essence and Ebony to get hair inspiration!
It’s hard for young children to sit still, but you can keep them busy while you are doing their hair by letting them read or look at some of the books mentioned in point one. You can also let your daughter pick out her hair beads, ballies, or barrettes. A beading tool (comes with some bead sets or is sold separately) is a great way to keep little hands occupied. Simply allow the child to place the beads on the tool for you to have ready as you finish a braid or twist.
5. Watch videos.
A few years ago, Sesame Street debuted a song called “I Love My Hair” on their show. The clip features a little girl who can wear her hair in various styles. My girls love this song! It can be viewed on YouTube. You can also watch “Happy to be Nappy” on video (Happy to be Nappy and Other Stories of Me, produced by HBO).
As you include your child in his or her hair care routine, be sure to also offer many positive affirmations: “I love your curly, black hair!” or “Wow! This style looks great on you!” If your child takes actions toward caring for his or her own hair, gently guide while responding with a positive “Way to take care of your hair!” Lots of smiles, hugs, and high-fives keep the positive momentum going.