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Knotty hair

Our expert tells you how to keep your kid's hair tangle-free when cutting it is not an option

By Alyson Schafer, parenting expert
Knotty hair

Q: It is a struggle to brush my six-year-old’s hair. It’s gotten to the point where there’s a huge knot at the back of her head. It doesn’t seem to bother her, but it’s making me crazy. What can I do?

A: Brushing tangled hair hurts — especially if someone else is doing the tugging. At age six, your daughter is not impacted by the social mores that inform us to have tangle-free hair. She has no reason to be motivated to have her hair brushed.

What to do?

Explain that having long hair is a responsibility. If she has hair long enough to tangle, then it requires regular brushing. The alternative is to get rid of this responsibility by having her hair cut to a “no-tangle” length. Many children opt for short hair (much to the chagrin of their parents!).

If she prefers to keep her hair long and it has to be brushed, ask her the best way the two of you can do that. See what she comes up with and give it a go! Here are some ideas from my own children at this age:

• Have child watch a movie or do colouring while Mom works on the hair.
• Do a small area and then take a break before starting on a new area.

Also, the more independence she has with her hair care, the better. She’s already six, so eventually you will have to teach her how to detangle and brush her own hair so this becomes her responsibility, not yours.

Here are some basic tips to get you started on training her to brush and detangle her hair:

• Apply conditioner after shampooing.
• Use a wide-toothed comb.
• Use a spray detangler (even better if your daughter chooses it at the store).
• Ask the hairdresser for a lesson (she’ll show her how to grab little chunks of hair and, starting at the bottom, to work upward toward the crown).

Here’s hoping your Rapunzel responds well to these suggestions.

This article was originally published on Sep 20, 2002

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