Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

Our Kids: Avoiding Curly Hair Bullying

By October 4th, 202115 Comments
Our Kids: Avoiding Curly Hair Bullyingby Tracey Wallace via Naturallycurly.com

We all know it’s true: kids can be cruel. The media coverage on the effects of bullying from this year alone have proven that being the brunt of cruelty, especially at a young age, can have lasting effects, and can even lead to tragedy.

Being different than the status quo can ruin a children’s memories of school and demolish their self-esteem, possibly for a lifetime. So how can you protect your child with curly hair from the straight haired kids at school? Straightening isn’t the answer.

As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children to prepare for and face their problems. Unfortunately, however, most of us still don’t even know how to deal with those problems ourselves.

The overwhelming majority of readers on the CurlTalk forum simply say they are glad they are past that stage. For your kids, this journey is just beginning. It’s high time to learn how to prepare them, and yourself, for the school years ahead.

“I can’t see over her hair!”

Let’s be honest: most curlies have volume, and lots of it. Gravity is unknown to the curliest of us, and this is just as true for kids in elementary with Afros. So, how do you deal with a head of tall curly hair when the student behind her can’t see the board? Talk to the teacher.

Most elementary school teachers chose their profession because they love children. God bless them. However, moving your child to the back of the room is an easy solution that will only keep the other children happy, but not your curly kid.

Schedule a conference with the teacher and try to have it in her classroom. Encourage your child to explain the set up of the room before you meet her teacher. This way, when you request that the teacher rearrange her desks – with your help, of course – you can toss some ideas around.

According to Eduplace.com, elementary classrooms benefit more from having separate learning centers in circular patterns instead of traditional lines. Do a little research and see if you can’t persuade her.

Negative Nicknames

I’m not sure a single child in the history of elementary managed to escape without a nickname. Even the positives ones back then felt uncomfortable. In fact, the whole idea of having to answer to a name different than the one your parents gave you is a troubling experience.

Mine was, “heart girl,” because I liked to wear a vest that had a heart printed on it. Once the nickname stuck, I never wore it again. In fact, I don’t think I ever wore anything with hearts on it after that, even to this day! You don’t want this to be the way your child feels about her curly hair.

To avoid the situation, sit your child down before school starts and talk about respect. Explain that everyone’s opinion deserves respect, even theirs. If they don’t like something – explain the difference here between “someone” – let them know that it is OK to express it.

During the year, be sure to consistently ask your child whom their friends are and if they have any “fun” nicknames. If one comes out, ask her how they feel about it. If it’s negatively, let her know that respect is a two-way street. If she is respecting them, they should respect her, and respect means not calling people names they don’t like.

Pressure to Straighten

You’ve worked hard to keep your little girl’s hair natural, curly and beautiful. Now, her best friend is encouraging her to get her hair relaxed like she just did. So what do you do when your child comes home, excited about a new hair ‘do and worried that her curly hair isn’t “in?”

You might think that you can just browse photos of celebrities with curly hair or have her sit down and chat with another curly that you know. But children have a way of thinking their best friend is cooler than the just everyone else. Nonetheless, you should still try to find natural hair role models for her.

Find something else that differs between your child and her friend — skin tone, eye color, hair color, freckles, whatever. Make sure that this something is a genetic feature, preferably something that she has in common with you or her father.

Explain to her that the way she looks is both beautiful and a combination of generations of people, who have worked hard to give her what she has.

You might say, “Look at your dad’s hair, it is the same color as yours! That was a gift from him, to you,” or, “And those curls, Aunt Susan gave those to you.”

Make her see that she is different and original because of what her family has given her. And then, just hope that the conversation doesn’t spring back up in middle school, when her familial ties, and perhaps a small guilt trip, will be less likely to change her mind.

Hard and Fast Bullying Facts

  • The Center for Disease Control estimates the cost of youth violence exceeds $158 billion each year.
  • PartentFurther.com states that 49% of public school principals report that bullying, name-calling, or harassment of students is a serious problem at their school.
  • Get involved today to put an end to youth violence and bullying.

 

Have your kids dealt with bullying (hair related or not)?

15 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    i would like to know how to comb my type of hair. when it was natural it was soft and pretty, but it was also to light, thin and short about 6cm. But now i've permed it becauce when it was natural it couldn't stay down, always had to be up in the air and my classmates and people who i don't know said i looked too young for my age, i took it as a compliment not knowing it wasn't, anywho i don't see what's wrong looking young, quess time change. i permed my hair for them to getoff my case which them when permed changed to another topic (my hair is too thin and its trashy);/ you just can,t please some people. myhair got worse it fell off about 1inch over the easter holiday and i just want a way to get it baack and simple easy ways to comb a hair like mine. am i asking too much i've been searching other sites andc nada. ps i'm 15

  • Anonymous says:

    @Ashley Jane: thanks for your comments; it really put things in (future) perspective for me. I'm the mother of two beautiful girls (2 1/2 years and 3 months) and I look forward to teaching them how to maintain healthy natural hair. However, I feel more prepaired when they succumb to the pressure to be "straight" when they get older. I plan to use your suggestions that will allow them a straight look without resorting to a relaxer. I hope this doesn't present as an issue before say, junior high school, because I don't believe I can be that flexible on this issue before then!

    It is important to understand the (normal) teenage need to fit in. Some teens can go against the grain, and more power to them. The average teen has no such desire and do whatever it takes to be perceived as down (or at least not the opposite of down, whatever that is). My own mother, who is now in her mid 60s, is still obsessed with "good hair" and "light skin and eyes". Inexplicably, she cut my natural hair into a mid size afro when I was in the 8th grade. I was swimming alot then, but I lived with my father and was already being teased because of the out style clothing that my mother provided (a whole other story). The only guidance that she gave me after that cut, was how to use a pick! WTF!!! I scraped together my allowance money from my father and immediately purchased a curling iron. My first relaxer followed shortly after that, as well as breaking hair, but at least I looked liked everyone else, LOL!

  • Anonymous says:

    One "yo' mama so" diss and all that should stop–worked for me, of course, be ready with a 2 by 4 just in case—hahhahahha!

  • Anonymous says:

    Any form of bullying is unacceptable and should be reported to a person of authority immediately. Singling out natural/curly hair for bullying is absurd. Bullying is bullying. Period. When I was in grade school I was the second tallest kid in the whole school, and up until high school, usually the tallest in my class. It wasn't fair to me that I had to be in the back all of the time (for pictures or line ups), but it was what it was. If you don't want your natural haired child stuck in the back of the class, then tame the hair down (this does NOT mean straighten or cut) before they go to school. Freedom of expression does not include infringing on another's right to see the black board.

  • Anonymous says:

    Here in CA I have seen a lot of school age kids with natural hair. Now my home town in IN there isn't a lot of naturals there. But there isn't a lot of bullying concerning hair here but there is the other form of bullying is here in CA. Natural hair is the norm here from what I have seen.

  • Tako says:

    This is a great article.. My 13 year old daughter did the big chop over the summer while school was out and she decided to forgo braids and wear her hair this year (8th grade). She was so nervous about being teased, but everyone loves it.. I think her teachers played a part in the kids excepting it.. She came home the first day glowing. All her teachers, black and white told her it looks good on her and wish they were brave enough to go against the grain. She's become the poster child for other kids to ask questions and she researches the natural hair subject so she can give true/ honest facts. She's the only girl in her school with an afro; there are a few guys with locs, but she tells me it makes her feel proud when someone says they can't see over her hair in class. That's her crown and glory.

  • msjoker says:

    To Ashley Jane: I took the post to generally apply to children of all ages. That being said, no, little girls aren't doing just ponytails and braids anymore. Whereas my holiday styles as a little girl included a press and Shirley Temple curls, I'm seeing a lot of french rolls, wraps, bobs, whatever is the adult trend over the last years. And even smaller children pick up ideas and vocabulary from the adults around them. Ponytails or not, they can see thick vs fine, straight vs wavier texture. There's never been any question over the last 12 years about whether or not my daughter's hair was natural, ponytail or afro, just "when are you gonna get her a perm."

  • Antoinette Miller says:

    Realize that bullying doesn't age discriminate. I'm 17 and had a teenage boy in church whisper that he "couldn't see behind my hair." I'll never admit it to anyone else but that really hurt. There was no reason for him to say that.

  • Ashley Jane says:

    Hmmmmm I agreed a little but it seems a little text book like, not really dealing with real life. Call me ignorant but I assumed little girls wore little girl hairstyles like ponytails and braids of all kinds. How can small children tell whether or not hair is natural? Now middle school age I can see where there could be problems but thats when you switch over to twist/braid outs and twist/braid and curls etc. If those styles are too "natural" that they cause teasing that the child is uncomfortable with then try other braiding methods or wash and set styles. I would hate for my child to be teased but I know from experience that a planet sized amount of positive reinforcment doesn't really work years 13-17 when it comes to stuff like appearance, especially when your appearance is outside of the "norm". Kids don't care about sitting down with parents and listening to that in fact it's probably going to annoy them. I say if the child comes into her teenage years (high school specifically) and wants straight hair, straighten it!… WITHOUT CHEMICALS OF COURSE! Teach her techniques for stretching that straight style for a couple weeks to avoid loads of heat which could cause damage. Teach her to switch back and forth from straight to curly or straight to wash and set styles every so often to protect her hair. No doubt her hair is probably much longer, and very healthy after years of proper maintenance and being chemical free so it shouldn't be a big deal. I would even think about getting my daughter a really good weave (sometimes) so she can have the straight look she wants all while protecting her hair. Don't try to deny this longing for straight hair because it's GOING TO COME! That's just how it goes when your a teenager you want to fit in and have boys like you and standing up for a bigger cause of self expression, and converting the mainstream to accept your God Given beauty is just NOT on your list of things to do. lol Teenagers are entirely to shallow to think that deep! Now this is where that positive reinforcement comes in from the parents because though it seems like the child is annoyed (and proabably is)they at least remember some of the stuff the parents are saying and they'll keep it once they grow out of that teenager phase. Plus she'll see for herself how healthy her hair looks compared to all the other girls which is one reason why she'll value her natural hair. Just keep teaching that straight hair is a style and that it isn't necessarily the prettiest or best style. And then when she goes to college and gets all enlightened (lol) she'll learn to appreciate her hair and its versatility and probably go back to more natural looks as a regular hairstyle. How do I know? That's exactly what happened to me! lol

  • Anonymous says:

    Nice to see this picture. My friends have accused me of not taking care of my daughter's hair because I like to leave it in twist out sometimes.

    In west Africa most kids have cornrows.

  • Anonymous says:

    My son has locs and he has experienced some bullying because of it. They have called him- girlie-mophead. Some boys even told him they want be his friend because of his hair! The girls never seem to have a problem. I have always told my son that if HE wants to cut his hair than just tell me. He told me that he loves his hair, but there have been times when he wants to be like the other boys. I just tell him that true friends are there no matter what and these boys who will only be your friend if you cut your hair will find another reason not to be your friend. Everybody will not like you but you have to LOVE you. So as we approach the new school year- he will be in 3rd grade- he is thinking about cutting his hair. He wants to see what he will look like but if he changes his mind next week then I guess I will be doing loc maintance for another year.

  • Tracey Joy says:

    I'm not a parent, I do remember all too well childhood and school memories. Most of them were not pleasant. I also was one of 3 children of color in my elementary school up until 3 grade when more children of varying backgrounds were bused to the magnet school I attended. I was the exotic one in a sea of green and blue eyed blond hair, green eyed red hair, freckled faced children. The kids with freckles and red hair, oh boy they got it bad from carrot top, to being called "Annie" freckle juice all kinds of stuff.

    Oddly I wasn't picked on too much about my hair from the white children. They wanted their hair to do what mine did. They wanted braids with beads. It came from the other children of color who had "kiddie relaxers" and I didn't. I had nappy hair so they said. That's when I came home crying. I wanted silky hair not this puffy hair anymore. Mom had a carefree curl put into my hair. Even with the curl in my hair I still wasn't accepted, I got picked on more for trying to have "Puerto Rican" hair. Nightmare of epic proportions. What parent wants to see their child suffer like that? What I did was turn to being the "mean girl" and that made a lot of the taunts stop out of fear. I wasn't gonna hurt a fly they didn't know that.

    I lost my individuality that day and now gaining it back. I've been natural since 2008 and it's still a struggle in adulthood. I love this article. We have to come together to teach the youth that they are acceptable and their hair has nothing to do with who or what they are inside. Before we get there we have to learn this for ourselves.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am SOOOO glad to see this being talked about! It does happen and not always even at school! I've had to educate some adults that have come to our home about curly hair and not making inappropriate or demoralizing comments about hair. (we have a helper come to the house sometimes & she has seen some morning hair or just plain out au naturale hair b/c that's how we felt that day!) I had to have a talk w/a child care center teacher once also that had never seen a fro in person. All of these were adults by the way. I went thru some of this in school b/c my mom didn't know how to style her 'mixed' childs hair. So far, my daughter hasn't experienced this in school. I guess some things are changing?

  • Anonymous says:

    When I was a kid, my mom was super worried that when I started school, I would be made fun of because of my hair. She didn't want to straighten it, but she also didn't want me to be an outcast because of it. Luckily, all of the kids in my class were amazed by the springiness of my hair and wanted hair just like mine. 🙂

    Whenever I did feel some pressure to straighten my hair, my mom would combat that by telling me that relaxers and hot combs were unhealthy for my hair. She would tell me that my hair was really healthy, and that if I straightened it, I might have a lot of heat damage. Looking at the other girls around me, I could see that this was true. She also styled my hair with bright clips and ties every day, so that my hair was always on point. Whenever I started to feel the desire for a different look, she would let me go get my hair braided with extensions.

    Finally, seeing my mom with natural hair was probably the biggest factor in my positive view of my own natural hair. Natural hair was always the default hair option for me, not weaves or relaxers.

    I'm not a mother, lol, but I think I am close enough to childhood to remember what affected me. Hopefully, this helps someone!

  • Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed this post. My daughter has not been bullied because of her natural hair. To the contrary, she is now asking for locks – sisterlocks to be specific. A number of girls at her school are sporting long, thick locks and she wants to join them!

Leave a Reply