Tuesday, August 14, 2018

How to Make Hair Styling Time Enjoyable for Your Black Child (Without Relying on an I-Pad or Tablet)

Four kids, four very different responses to hair styling.  Oh, and did I mention, it's been almost a decade of hair styling?!?   

My oldest:  so easy.  Not tender-headed AT ALL.  Give her a snack-cup and she'd sit as I learned to part, band, braid, and bead.

But my second daughter, oh my.  She was SO tender-headed.  To the point where she and I both wanted to just cut her hair.  Yeah, I said it.  Cut it ALL off.  It was just excrutiating from start to finish, for both of us.  I was in tears as much as she was, feeling like I failed as a mom.  But we stuck it out, and eventually she began to outgrow her inability to tolerate hair sessions.  

My son is a strong sensory seeker, but haircuts and hair styling can be a challenge.  We are pretty particular about how his hair is simply because it needs to be simple and practical.  I explain our hair care routine for him extensively in this prior post.  

My toddler isn't easy-peasy, but she's not very tender-headed either.  We stick mostly with puffs and finger coils for now, with occasional free-hair days in between.  

In our almost ten-years of styling, there's been much trial-and-error.  I am thankful for our tried-and-true routines, and I hope they help you, too:  

1:  Watch affirming movies.

I love showing my kids movies like Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg.  The variety of hairstyles (Whitney's afro, Whoopi's dreds, Brandy's curls) can be a great talking point during the movie.  And I dare you not to sing "Impossible" the whole week long after watching!   

There's also the lovely "I Love My Hair" video from Sesame Street (I have that song memorized!)---though I'm not sure you'll want to watch it on repeat for the duration of the styling session.  

My kids LOVE popcorn, and it's an ideal snack for hairstyling sessions (easy to vaccuum up) and isn't sticky.  We usually pop mass batches on the stove (big family life), flavor with a little bit of butter and pink sea salt.  But sometimes we'll get the kids Boom-Chick-A Pop:  the light kettle corn flavor is the favorite.  

2:  Read hair books.

Keep all your hair books in a tote or basket that you can get out during hair time.  The tote can easily be stored, and the hair books, read during styling time, makes them special.  

There are so many excellent books for Black boys and girls on hair with more options coming out often.  I list our favorites for boys here and for girls here.  Another option is to purchase Black hairstyle magazines to flip through.  

Children who can read can practice reading aloud to you, or younger kids can listen to an older sibling read aloud to them.  

3:  Play with sensory toys.

For kids who need sensory input during hair styling sessions, yet you need them to hold mostly still, I recommend letting them sit on a wiggle cushion or a bean-bag chair.  There are also some fantastic fidget toys that keep your child's hands busy without compromising the necessity for them to sit while you work.  

Another option is to create a sensory box that fits on your child's lap.  Fill the box with sensory materials depending on his/her age and ability.  Great options include different fabric scraps, felt, colorful pipecleaners, ribbon, yarn, pom poms,  etc.  If you opt for the pipecleaners, kids can string pony beads onto them.  (I avoid allowing kids to play with a rice bin, slime, or cloud doh during this time, simply because in my view, it's too risky for there to be a spill or for hair to get into the materials.  However, Play-doh, like this sparkly version, may be a good option.)  

For younger ones, the "touch and feel" board books are a lot of fun.  Some touch-and-feel board books include Disney's It's a Small World series, any of the DK books, and the Bright Baby touch-and-feel.   Lift the flap books like those by Karen Katz and these (my toddler's favorite!) are also a great option.

4:  Encourage participation.

I have my girls put their beads of choice onto beading tools while I'm parting, banding, and braiding their hair.  I also offer hair product choices (like, which scent do you want?).  Or if we're using Gabby Bows, I have them unsnap the ones they wish to have in their hair and line them up for me.  My baby enjoys holding the different combs and hair product bottles.  You can also purchase dolls with style-able hair so your child can work while you do.  

Letting your child explore the different materials you're using is a way to create a positive and hands-on hair experience.  

5:  Offer empowerment, pride, and affirmations.

I take hairstyling sessions to be an opportunity to affirm my kids, their skin, and their hair.   I tell them how awesome it is that they are Black:  their hair can do so many things!  I give them options between two styles and let them choose.  When they get their hair braided with extensions, they have say-so in the length, the color (we often add color!), and the style.  They choose their beads or barrettes.  I keep a hand mirror near by so they can see how their style is progressing and admire the finished style.  

This isn't a stand-alone way to make the hairstyling session enjoyable, but it is definitely the most important and can be combined with the other routines.  

What are your tablet or I-pad - free tips for making hair styling time more enjoyable for your child?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.