Natural Hair and Self-Esteem in Children

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By DiscoveringNatural

When I was a little girl, I remember every Saturday, my mom will take me to Shasha market  in Ibadan (Nigeria) to get my hair braided. I was not a big fan of it because that meant I had to sit down on the small stool while my hair was being done by one of the local market women. My mother would come back an hour or so later after making her shopping rounds. Styles that I did not like getting done were any styles that required me to face the "sitted" woman ... ***memories that I have suppressed***

Not only did I not like getting my hair braided, I also did not like the styles and the stigma of me rocking my hair while my friends had straight relaxed ... PERMED ... hair. I had a LOT of hair as a child and it was quite full. When I was a little girl, I remember my mom's many attempts to "tame" my wild hair. To make it presentable, she would stick a million bobby pins in my hair, I did not like the process, but the outcome was admirable. With those magic bobby pins, she created bangs without cutting my hair.

Unlike other mothers that decided to perm their child's hair, myself included, my mother did not make that decision, I did that on my own at the age of 13, after BEGGING my dad to let me relax my hair.

Why did I want my hair permed?
 I wanted to be like the other kids. I did not see the beauty in my own natural hair. I am grateful that my children have grown to love their natural hair.

 To help child raise a child's self-esteem when it comes to natural hair, we need to do the following:

1. Reassure
2. Practice Positive Speech
3. Enlightenment

When we reassure a child on how beautiful his/her hair is, we not only break the stigma of natural hair not being fully acceptable by society, we also re-engineer the way they think. Letting them know that their God-given hair is better than any other society-acceptable hair will help build their self-confidence. I have seen this happen with my oldest daughter, and as a mother, it is a joy to witness.

Practice Positive Speech
How many times out of frustration have you made negative references to your child's hair when styling it? I know we are not perfect and sometimes, it can be a tough task especially when the child is not cooperative. However, we should always learn to speak positively when it comes to the natural hair. Children internalize words, and a word spoken today can last a lifetime. Let use choose positive words like, "I love it when your hair does....", "Your hair is so beautiful...", "Isn't it wonderful that your hair can do so many styles"... and my favorite for my little clients, "You've got magic hair!". They love hearing that during washing session when the Shrinkage Fairy comes along.

Learn to involve the child in the care of their natural hair. When styling their hair, tell them what you are doing. You will be surprise when they start using words like moisturize, LOC method, deep conditioning. You can even take time during your busy day and sit with them, play beauty shop with them and their dolls. Click here to learn more tips on teaching kids how to care for their natural hair.

What are some ways that you improve your child's Self-Esteem when it comes to their natural hair?


  1. Wow, this is very informative. You were definitely cute as a child, and haven't changed much. The magic hair angle to it is very cunning, lol. Well done.

    1. Thank you so much. Magic Hair trick always works. ;)

  2. Loved reading your story....everything is soooo true. As a child, I did not get a perm but my mom "pressed" our hair with a hot comb that was heated on the cooking stove. Royal Crown was the petroleum grease that was me, looking back, it was worse than a perm. When I went off to college, I made the decision on my own to get a perm. Back then, perms for African Americans were new and one type of perm was suppose to work for all hair types. can guess what happened....breakage big time for girls like me who had fine hair.....especially at the back which is where my hair is the finest. At college, everyone had this same type of breakage.....long flowing hair at the front and once pulled into a pony hair at the back. Those were the "pioneer" days for perms.

    1. That hair at the back being short thing also happened to me in college. I ended up shaving my hair at the back; the Cropped Hairstyle. Lucky for me, that was the style that a lot of girls were rocking those days (early 90s).

  3. For some reason, I could not complete my previous comment......just wanted to say that I said all of that to say this.....although it can be difficult and challenging at times, I LOVE my natural hair. In 2004, I became natural because the years of perms had thinned my hair and I just did not like the fact of placing harsh chemicals on my scalp. I will NEVER Go back to permed hair because I value my health and well being!

  4. Thanks for this. I definitely practise enlightenment and positive reinforcement now though she prefers mummy hair or straight hair (I'm transitioning mainly because of her). I live the magic hair bit too :-D.

    1. Thanks! Children always want to be like us. Have a great transitioning journey, I did the same for my girls.

  5. Ehwwwwww, remember those days of sitting down on a small stool and putting your head in the laps of the hairdresser *hot tears*, Kai, sufferment

    1. lol. I remember those days too! though I enjoyed getting my hair styled, and I actually had the choice of choosing my styles.
      It's strange your friends had straight hair, I didn't know any kid my age with relaxed hair and very few wore extensions. i agree with #2

  6. Nice post. Very positive, encouraging and helpful. Thanks for posting this article. Keep it up!


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