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Curly Tweens: Overcoming the Pressure to Straighten

By January 27th, 202110 Comments

Curly Tweens: Overcoming the Pressure to Straighten

by Tara Lisciandro-Hornich of

Soon enough, your curly pre-teen will be stepping off the bus, asking if she can borrow your tools, and then begin to straighten her hair. Or, maybe she already has tried to do just that due to some new peer pressure from friends or schoolmates. If either of these is the case, and you want your child to stay naturally curly, choose the path of least resistance.

Middle school years can be even more challenging than those of high school. Why? Children, pre-teen children, are usually exposed to a little more independence in school at this age. They are given some space to grow, not to mention there are some major chemical and physical growth changes during these years, too!

Some kids will go wild with their newfound space, while others will take baby steps to test the waters. Most of all, kids want to see what they are capable of doing with the challenges offered to them on a daily basis.

Straightening her hair may be just one of these challenges. Your child may be bothered by some girls who stare at TVs and glossy magazines portraying straight-haired models, and will want to fit in. Forget homework, they’re looking at the slickest, straightest ‘do Angelina Jolie is rocking.

If your child begins to ask for hair straightening tips, be prepared and don’t put up a big fight. Remember, the path of least resistance is going to take you the farthest.

  1. Think back to when your child was just 5 or 6 years old and you said, “Don’t open the frig,” or “Don’t use this by yourself,” or, “don’t (insert absolutely anything here).” All it takes is the word “don’t,” and they will do the opposite of what you say.
  2. Sit down with your daughter before you pull out the absolute, “No way!” Ask her why she wants to do this, where learned about it, why she thinks straightening is a good choice. She’s getting older, smarter and more curious. Have an older, smarter, more curious conversation with her.
  3. Let her know that, like a lot of things at this point in her life, straightening can be considered an “experiment.” Tell her about the pros and cons, and help her list them out. Maybe she wants to grow her curls out some more? Maybe a new curly haircut would show off her curls a little better? Does she want to try out some new headbands or fancy clips? Show her photos or websites of famous actresses and models—all sporting their curly locks. Find quotes from icons she may look up to who talk about beauty and making good decisions. Then, allow her to make her decision.
  4. If she gives you some good reasons or you simply just feel like allowing her to try straightening, then do so, with some help. It may be hard to be mom and hair stylist at the same time, but it could be fun for both of you to try on a new role!
  5. Remind your pre-teen that she should protect her hair whenever she uses heat. Help her choose the right heat protection products for her natural hair. You can play the role of “teacher” too by showing your child what happens to hair when it has too much heat, or heat damage. That’s right, pull out those pre-big chop photos!

The Curly Pre-Teen Experiment!

“I get so many compliments when I straighten my hair,” says Alexis, a 13-year-old middle school student. Alexis has just started learning about straightening her perfect curly locks. Her mom is not happy.

“I don’t know why she needs to do this. I tell her how beautiful she is with the curls she has and how just about everyone on the planet would kill for her curls.” says Alexis’ mom.

This interaction is a pretty common pattern between pre-teen curly girls and moms, everywhere. So, as part of an experiment, some of Alexis’ peers, teachers and instructors told her that her straight hair was “different,” instead of pretty. They used the terms “pretty,” “cute,” and “beautiful” for descriptions of her appearance and her clothing, but to her straight hair, only “different.” They commented on her “different look,” and how did Alexis respond?

“I like when people say I’m pretty, but they said I looked ‘different,’ and I thought it really wasn’t worth all of the time I spent straightening my hair just to hear that.” said Alexis.

Since then, Alexis has done a lot less straightening and spent a lot more time on other things she actually enjoys doing, like dance class and yoga.

Everyone loves a compliment, whether you’re a preteen or adult. But if your child can get past the compliments, which are really only words, and rely on her own decision-making ability and build her confidence, rest assured that straightening her curls may not be on the top of her priority list.

It’s a tough one, but it can be done.


  • Anonymous says:

    throw…not through


  • Anonymous says:

    I have a 10 year old 5th grader and she loves to get her hair flat ironed. She knows that I won't be supporting a relaxer habit therefore we don't even talk about that as an option.
    I don't mind her getting her hair flat ironed but she doesn't try to maintain it. She will lay on the carpet or through a blanket on her head. She doesn't tie her hair up most nights. She gets it wet in the shower. She don't wear a hat while it's raining. I find myself frustrated with her.
    She has an appointment this Friday but I think we are going to try a twistout or something.
    I hate…hate…hate…spending all that money on getting her hair straighten only for it to be a mess by the end of the day.

    She has no curl pattern…it's soft like cotton and it's long (bra strap length..if she had boobs lol).

    If I can find a good twist out/braid out style I will be so happy!

    Any suggestions?

  • Anonymous says:

    I can't even begin to say how REGRETFUL I am to have ever put a relaxer in my daughter's hair (and that's an understatement)!!! I unfortunately made the decision for my daughter at a very young age. It was one of the worst decisions that I've ever made!

    My child had a "Head Full" of hair (it was beautiful)but I found it very difficult to manage! After years of damage, my daughter decided on her own that this was not the road she was going to travel anymore!

    The funny things is that she ENCOURAGED me to go natural! I was so taken back by her determination to turn her unhealthy hair around! She truly amazed me!:) I was actually a bit "embarrased" that she was showing more courage than I was! But then again I had a longer time to deal with the "RESISTANT" against us wearing our natural hair. So I equat my reluctance to that.

    As it stands, we are both happy now and have reaped the rewards of choosing healthy hair over relaxed hair. (not dissing anyone who chooses to relax…it's your personal choice).

  • Anonymous says:

    Just say NO! Your House Your Rules. This is what my Mom said and did until I went away to college, and she was right.

  • Ashley Jane says:

    Mom's don't fight the straight hair. This is your daughter speaking! lol no seriously I'm only 23 and my mother and I went through this same issue. It's just that age group of 12-15 that you really want that long flowing silky hair. Once I got to high school I was kind of upset with myself because I looked like everyone else. To stand out I tried to wear my hair in wash in go styles which looked dreadful since I convinced my mom to relax my hair (she was nearly in tears). Anyway I grew out of it and realized my mom was right about all the benefits of natural hair and came back to it. I would recommend saying no to a relaxer. That's one thing I wish my mom would have stood her ground on.

  • hair re-growth says:

    This tips look cool. I'm gonna love to try this one. I have a cousin, she's 9 years old and she really wants to straighten her hair. I'm gonna share this info. to her. Thank you.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a problem with that experiment. It talks about overcoming the pressure to straighten, but they did that by pressuring the teen to remain curly by making her feel bad about how her hair looks when straightened. Shouldn't the goal be to get the girl to like herself no matter how she wears her hair? Straight or curly, she's still the same and should love herself the same either way. And how she feels about herself should not be tied to whether or not people give her compliments and tell her she looks pretty. She should already know she's pretty. I just seems to me like she choose to go back to being curly because everyone was forced to make her feel bad when her hair was straight.

  • Erica Bunker says:

    I blow my daughter's hair straight and flat iron it. She's 14 years old and a freshman in high school. Her hair is HER decision. My oldest daughter and I are natural and my other daughter has not desire to be. I've never tried to push a natural hair agenda off on her. It's her choice to look the way she wants to look. And that's cool. I've always done my girls' hair and I've always made sure to do it in a healthy way that's the least harmful.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so happy to see this article. I am in the mist of this as we speak. My tween ( 11) knows that a relaxer is not good for her hair but she does want to straighten it through a pressing comb or a flat iron. All of her friends have straight hair and her closest friend has been pressing her long locks for a number of years. I cannot convince her stay curly. A natural beautician adviced me allow her to choose if she wants to stay curly or use heat. I am currently trying to find the best heat protection to use and learn how often a natural can flat iron or press and prevent damage to the hair. My tween does not want to stay curly. Any advice ladies!!!

  • JMartinez516 says:

    I actually ended up cutting and relaxing my waist length curly hair because of pressure in middle school. First off, I was 12/13 still wearing my hair in braids – and I don't mean the cute braids. Plus everyone told me my hair was nappy and I NEEDED to get a relaxer. I believed them…boy I wish I knew then what I know now. My hair would be awesome!!! It's getting there! 15 1/2 months post relaxer and 5 months post BC!!

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