Every person's hair is different and as a parent you need to spend some time to work out what is the best way to manage your child's hair.
For some parents of mixed-race children, doing their child's hair can be a nightmare for both parent and child. Not all mixed-race children have hair that is difficult for their parents to manage but if you do, then here are some helpful tips to make it easier for you and your child.
Doing somebody else's hair is not something most of us think about, we spend a great part of our lives getting to know our own hair and no matter how easy it may look to others many people find that it takes them a while to find a style and way of managing their hair that they feel comfortable with. When you have a child you have to go through the whole process again and for most parents their children's hair will not be like their own.
It is essential to your children's sense of identity and self-esteem that they are given the opportunity to look like they are well-cared for and groomed; this is particularly true for mixed-race families, already subjected to unusual social scrutiny by others. How your children look can shape the conclusions outsiders draw. Children notice others' assessments and often interpret them as evidence of their own inadequacy. Young children are very concrete. They need to feel beautiful and handsome to contribute to a sense of pride in who they are. If their hair is a source of frustration and unhappiness, not just for them but for you, they may begin to develop low self-esteem.
How often should you wash your child's hair?
Every person's hair is different and as a parent you need to spend some time to work out what is the best way to manage your child's hair. If your child's hair is straight and of European texture then it is a matter of ensuring that the hair is kept regularly washed and conditioned. A regular trim will ensure a good growth rate. If your child's hair is not of a regular European texture then it will need to be treated differently and you will need to find more specialised hair products.
The first thing to work out is if the hair is naturally dry or greasy, most afro type hair is naturally dry and if this is the case with your child's hair you have to be very careful about keeping enough moisture and oil in their hair. Water is a drying agent, too frequent washing may dry out the hair, preventing the natural oils to moisturize. Washing once or twice a week should be enough but it is not uncommon to wash it once a fortnight.
How often should you comb or brush and style your child's hair?
At least daily, unless your child's hair is kept plaited and then it can be left longer. Children may be tender-headed and may dislike this process, but if you don't do it consistently, their hair will begin to matt, making combing impossible.
Very often, parents feel bad because their children cry while having their hair combed, but many children cry at first when having their hair done, even when they have same-race parents. Nonetheless, they are still entitled to look and feel good about themselves. And with daily (or more frequent) brushing, the hair will have fewer mats and thus hurt less with time. Natural-bristle brushes are often softer and easier to use than synthetic brushes. If your child's hair is very dry then you may need to use a moisturiser to make brushing easier. If your child has a lot of hair then try doing small sections at a time, this will make it easier to manage. If your child has the type of hair that gets tangled easily, then putting it in plaits before bed will make it easier to manage in the morning..
Should you use the same products on your child's hair as your own?
Probably not. There are special products designed specifically for your child's type of hair. Do not assume that because your child has afro type hair that all black hair products will be good for your child's hair. Most mixed-race children that have afro texture hair, have hair that is in between European and black hair. Some black hair products will be too heavy or greasy for your child's hair and some European products will be too drying. You will have to experiment to a certain degree.
There are now some hairdressers that specialise in mixed-race afro hair but these are rare. If you know mixed-race adults ask them how they care for their hair, just like you they would have had to experiment to find what works best for their hair and most would be only to happy to offer advice.
What is a relaxer? Should you press or straighten your child's hair?
Relaxers are chemicals, which straighten hair. These should not be tried without professional consultation, and they are rarely suggested for children under 6 years old. To press hair means to heat it, making it straighten. Again, very young children do not usually have the patience for this kind of procedure, which should be taught by a professional the first time. Using chemicals is not recommended, it destroys the hair and more importantly it sends a message to your child that their hair is not beautiful as it is. Most individuals relax and straighten their hair because they feel that they cannot manage it as it is. As a parent it is important that you help your child learn to manage their hair without having to resort to the use of chemicals and heat treatments. Should I take my child to a professional salon or do it at home?
Finding a good hairdresser is hard for anyone and mixed-race individuals with afro type hair find it even more difficult. For boys a visit to a barber shop can be a good experience. If their hair is kept short then most barber shops even the one in the high street will be able to manage it. If their hair is left long however then you will experience problems finding a hairdresser that knows how to manage your child’s hair. If there is a black hairdresser in your area then it is worth a visit to see if they have a stylist who is experienced with mixed-race afro hair. They will certainly have experience of braiding and caring for dreadlocks. The best policy is to learn how to manage your child's hair yourself, ask other parents and mixed-race individuals for advice. Corn rowing also known as French plaiting is now a popular style for European hair. Most hairdressers know how to do it. Ask if you can watch someone having their hair done and practice on your friends or your own hair until you feel confident doing your child's hair. Plaiting is a good way to keep your child's hair neat and easy to manage. If you can't manage to plait your child's hair yourself find someone who can and ask them if they would do it for you. You may have to pay them a small fee but it will be worth it for you and your child.