Is your daughter stubborn when it comes to brushing her hair? Hair brushing is an important part of personal daily hygiene and whether she is a 2 or a 10-year-old, the habit should be instilled in her as early as possible. After all, you teach her to brush her teeth every night, right?
That said, your daughter’s reluctance may very well have to do with knots that are painful to remove. Teaching her how to brush her hair properly — and treating hair brushing spent between you and her as an opportunity for quality time spent together — can lessen the tantrums, leave her hair looking beautiful, and give her the tools to keep it healthy for the rest of her life.
If your daughter is seriously vocal about her objections to hair brushing, take her to a room that is quiet and explain that hair brushing is not up for negotiation. Listen to and acknowledge her fears or concerns — when children feel like their problems are being heard they tend to act out less.
You can also ask your daughter what might make the experience more pleasant for her. Listening to her favorite music, sharing a story with her that no one else knows, allowing her to watch TV, or letting her put together a jigsaw puzzle as you brush can occupy her mind and make her less anxious. It’s also important that you learn how to brush her hair in a way that doesn’t hurt, so you can teach her how to do it as well. Keep in mind that some people do have more sensitive scalps and your daughter may be one of them.
• Removing tangles is the first order of business when brushing hair. You should choose a brush with soft plastic or rubber teeth for removing tangles and always start about an inch from the bottom of the hair. Starting at the top, near the scalp, will only reinforce tangles as you bring the brush down on them.
Grab a section of hair about an inch in diameter and separate it from the rest of the hair. Work your way up the hair gradually, while holding it tightly in your fist slightly above the part you are brushing, which cuts down on pulling at the scalp. Bring another inch into the brush on the down stroke, and then another until you are at the top. When you are done with one section, take another section and proceed the same way until you have made your way around the entire head. Tug softly at knots. No yanking!
• For tough knots, try gently kneading them first in your fingertips, very softly pulling them apart like you might pull cotton from a large roll. If you pull hard on a knot it gets tighter, so knead and pull very gently and the knots will loosen enough for the brush to go through. Have patience! De-tangler can help, but if you use too much it builds up on the hair and causes more problems than it cures. De-tangler is best used right out of the bath on wet hair.
• Now that her hair is tangle-free and dry, a natural bristle brush will distribute the oils from the scalp to the rest of the hair, giving it shine and keeping it healthy.
• Lemon-juice rinse (pure lemon juice and water left on hair for 20 minutes and then washed out) bi-weekly in summer will keep the chlorine — which tends to make all hair very stiff and unmanageable — out of your child’s hair.
It is never too late to create a positive hair-brushing routine, so begin now and happy brushing!
Jennifer Bilek is the owner of Get Coiffed, a haircut house-call service for Manhattan families that specializes in children’s hair care. Bilek has published numerous articles on hair care and general health issues.