Kids Crying While You Brush Their Hair Is Maddening, But Common — Here's How To Fix It
Does your precious darling turn into a mighty monster at the first sign of any hair care tools? Plenty of kids take issue with the concept of tangle-removal, but there are several tried-and-true ways to convince your child that brushing their hair isn't murder.
I'll be the first to admit that when your hair is basically a rat's nest piled on top of your head, brushing through it is not the most pleasant feeling in the world. Sure, it can feel uncomfortable. Fine. But, it's necessary to help your kids look like functional human beings from time to time.
When my stepdaughter was about 7 years old, she went through a phase where she consistently wanted to wear her hair in french braids on either side of her head. She always wanted me to braid her hair, but never liked me brushing it out beforehand. She would fidget and squirm and nearly break out into tears before I even got to the braiding. It took us many, many sessions of screeching our way through the brushing part of this whole ordeal before I finally finagled a few tricks to keep her from freaking out whenever I broke out the brush.
Many of the tips below come straight from real moms who have been through their own brush battles with littles. It may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you, but it is totally possible to convince your child that you don't truly wish to make them miserable by brushing their hair.
1. Good Technique Matters
For kids with long hair, it's helpful to brush out the ends of the hair first, holding it a handful at a time near the base of the scalp. I learned this trick with my stepdaughter, and it even changed the way I brush my own hair.
You don't get the pulling sensation on your scalp that comes when the knots start to resist the brush or comb going through. That's really the painful part, and by taking it away you can have a much more pleasant hairstyling experience.
2. Let Them Pick Out Their Own Tools
Kids love to pick out their own stuff. Clothes, bedding, toothbrushes — you name it, they want to pick it out. The same goes for hair brushes and styling tools.
A former hairstylist turned school teacher tells Romper that her best advice for kids who don't want their hair brushed is to "let them take ownership." Take them to the store, let them pick out a cute comb, a brush in their favorite color, and detangling spray that smells like bubblegum. Chances are you'll have more successes and less struggles that way.
3. Detanglers Can Help
Several moms Romper spoke with admitted that a good detangling spray is an absolute must for kids who hate having their hair brushed. "It lets the brush slide through the hair so much easier," one mom says. Another mom tells Romper that she calls her kid's tangle spray "hairspray" to convince her to let her mom spray it down before brushing.
4. "No Tears" Means No Tears
Nickie, mom to a 6-year-old competition dancer, says that it took a little bit of trickery to get her daughter to agree to let her brush her tender head and style her hair into the required updos for dance. "She has 'no tear' shampoo, and I told her that meant there would be no tears when brushing," Nickie tells Romper. Absolutely genius.
5. Take Turns
With some kids (toddlers especially), hair brushing is just like anything else — a power struggle. They want to do things on their own and assert their independence, so even though they might not do the best job, it can be helpful to let them at least have a go at it.
One mom tells Romper that she used to take turns with her daughter when she first started protesting having her hair brushed. Their "turn" may end up adding a few extra minutes to their hair care routine, but if it decreases the tears and tantrums even by a little bit, it's worth it.
6. Get To Know Their Hair
As someone who has naturally curly hair that was extremely thick and unruly as a child, I can personally attest to the literal pain that happens when your mom yanks an old-school round brush through your curls as they knot up in protest. It is not fun.
If your kid has silky smooth hair, this might not be an issue, but understanding what type of hair brush or comb that works best for your child's hair can make all the difference to a kid with thick curls. Your hairdresser can definitely help guide you in the right direction and explain which brushes and products will work best for your child's hair type and make the experience less of a struggle.
7. Give Them An Accessory
Erika, mom to 2-year-old Ellee, says that when her daughter puts up a fight about hair brushing, she's usually able to convince her by telling her she just wants her to feel good. "Sometimes she doesn't want me to fix her hair, but if I show her a bow and ask her if she wants to put a bow in her hair, she immediately wants me to fix her hair," Erika says.
If your girl isn't a fan of bows, this tip might not work for you, but if they happen to love topping off their look with a matching ribbon or two, it can help.