THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM A LIFETIME OF BLACK HAIR CARE AND A YEAR OF HAIR CARE ON A LITTLE TENDER-HEADED GIRL:
1. Don't use a comb. Use a wire-bristle brush. (combs really hurt, believe me); hold her hair very tight near the root when you brush it, so it won't pull on her scalp as much; take your time, and do a little at a time; be VERY SENSITIVE to her protestations. She's not acting. It hurts.
2. Untangle her hair ONLY on the day you wash it - leave in the conditioner and then brush out the kinks with that wire bristle brush
3. Do "two strand twists" on wash day; (you don't even have to wash out the conditioner)... her hair can stay in those twists for a few days, and then when you untwist it, she'll have beautiful curls that she can wear a few more days, and then presto! it's hair-washing day again
4. Gently finger comb her hair during the rest of the week; that way, it won't lock, and she'll look presentable
5. Get over the feeling that it can never look frizzy or kinky or nappy -- get her an assortment of headbands, so that you can push it back off her face and just let it be -- -if you think it's looking too frizzy, quickly spritz her hair, put a creamy product (like Carol's Daughter's Hair Milk) on it, twist it, leave it for an hour, take the twists out
6. Use a lot of de-tangler spray on the days you decide to braid it or put it in "puffs" or ponytails (remember: no comb -- wire brush!)
7. Stop feeling miserable. Relax, and on the days she doesn't want you messing with her hair, don't. Make that a headband day, or part it down the middle and give her puffs. Some days, you might just pick the lint out, rub some Hair Milk into it and put a barrette or two in the front. Done.
8. Every day, tell her how beautiful her hair is -- when it's puffy, when it's braided, when it's just being itself. Never act exhausted by the process. Try not to be frustrated. Make hair-washing day fun: while twisting my daughter's hair, I let her watch a favorite movie, or we do a sing-along. It largely works. (Of course, she still complains; I just try to distract her)
9. Remember that your goal is simple, just not easy: to make her feel good about her hair even if she can clearly see that yours doesn't require the same amount of pain and work.
10. Remember that it's a process. Be both sensitive to her cries and patient with yourself.
photo credit: flickr