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5 ways to build self-esteem around your child’s afro-textured hair

Updated: May 21, 2023

Children with afro-textured hair can frequently develop anxiety or shame around it as they get older, especially when living in predominantly white contexts where their hair is not reflected back at them as the norm.

As a parent, it is easy to feel like you have somehow failed and let your child down when this happens. But please remember, it is not your fault and that there ARE things you can do to prevent and work through this with your child!

Here are some top tips for doing this:

Tip #1 - Watch your language!

Avoid framing your child’s hair as ‘difficult’ or a problem in any way. Advertising and the media does this a lot - think about ‘bad hair’ narratives, ‘frizz control’ slogans and the textures they refer to. It is important to correct this for your child where you come across it before they apply this to themselves.

Also think about your own words around your child’s hair and watch out for anything that might depict it as a problem in its natural form - problems are for ‘managing’, not hair!

Tip #2 - Make hair-time fun!

Use wash days and hair time as opportunities for play, joy and quality time with your child. Making hair time enjoyable will create a positive association with their hair and help to build confidence in tackling new styles and techniques.

Tip #3 - Learn the basics

If you don't have afro-textured hair yourself, take time to learn the basics. Become confident in how to wash, moisturise, brush and style your child’s natural hair in a way that is safe. Brushing should not be painful!

Make use of Youtube and professional advice to do this when your child is young. You can also ask other adults with afro-textured hair for advice where appropriate - we often swap tips with each other!

Tip #4 - Accompany your child on their hair journey

As your child gets older, continue on their hair journey with them. Experiment with styles, products and hair techniques together - Youtube is great! - and continue to support your child in getting comfortable with different techniques.

The key thing is to be an active participant. Don’t just farm them out to a hairdresser alone - this can be isolating and traumatic for a child, especially if they are the only one in the family with afro-textured hair.

Tip #5 - Normalise afro-textured hair

Make use of books, media and art to communicate that afro-textured hair is welcome and normal in this world. Find role models with afro-textured hair who your child can really look up to and integrate images of them into your child’s world. Help your child access spaces where there are others who have hair like theirs.

Doing this will help them see there is nothing to be ashamed of!

Bonus tip

Finally, take time to find a great hairdresser who really listens to you and your child, creates space for questions and helps builds natural hair confidence too.

Don’t settle; they are out there!


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