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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.