41 answers

How Do I Get My 9 Year Old to Take Care of Her Hair?

I have just dealt with crying hysterics from my 9 (almost 10) year old because she has 2 giant knots in her hair. Her hair is thick and wavy, below her shoulders. She develops these knots that seriously will become dreadlocks if left. She stands in the shower and I slather the conditioner on the knot and brush it gently, but she becomes hysterical.

She hates to brush it on a daily basis because she says it hurts so she puts it in a pony tail (w/o brushing first). She will serioulsy go a week w/o brushing at all. She doesn't seem to care that her part is crooked/messy, and said she gets comments at school that she doesn't brush her hair and why is it messy? She won't let me brush it and says it hurts and when I ask her to do it she refuses.

She doesn't seem to care how she looks, I'm worried that she is not learning basic life skills like taking care of hygiene and hair. I haven't leaned too hard on her hair or what she wears b/c I feel like she will soon become very aware of it all, but I feel I have failed her in some way.

How do you all handle daughters with thick hair? Any advice would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I am pregnant with my second and it got to the point with my 6 year old that i just couldn't do her hair anymore. She didn't want to do it right so we cut it off. She actually loves her hair short to the shoulder and takes care of it on her own now.

I would tell her if she doesn't take care of it, you are going to have it cut off. That is what my mom did.

2 moms found this helpful

I use Johnson's No more tangles leave in conditioner on mine, which keeps it from getting too bad and sometimes I use my kiddo's de-tangler when there are knots.

1 mom found this helpful

You can do a couple of things. Get a hair brush for hair extensions which is more foregiving and flexible. Or and a leave in conditioner in the shower plus brush the conditioner thru while her hair is wet with the extension brush. Make the experience fun by having fun type bottles for her to use. I've seen some fun looking kids product lines.

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My motto: If a child is physically too young to take care of something, we don't allow the privledge. Privledge comes with responsibility and age.

If they can't take care of the hair, cut it short.
If they cant keep their ears cleaned by themselves daily, don't pierce them.
if they can't pick up poo in the yard, they don't get the dog.
If they cannot treat a rabbit right, they shouldn't have it in the first place.They are too young.
If they won't brush their teeth after being asked, they don't get treats after dinner anymore.

Allowing a child to have privledge without enforcing the care and upkeep of, results in children who do not learn responsibility. So you either have to not allow it, or enforce the upkeep after allowing it...which means spending lots of time training. As far as hygeine, I think it is important for mothers to teach DAILY hygene for girls from a very young age. Cut her hair short, but do hygene and body care with her EVERY day. She is clearly too young/immature to do it on her own. It will eventually become an ingrained habit. Tell her how beautiful she is after you brush her hair together. Encourage. Use your time brushing her hair together - to bond.
My eldest daughter has always had long hair. One way to keep it, is to braid it (not too loose not too tight) before going to bed. Then it can be combed out in the morning, with no knots, before a shower.

4 moms found this helpful

I have extremely thick hair. what I found that works for me is using biosilk shampoo/conditioner. Something in it just works really well. my backup is Pantene. I go and get my hair thinned regularly. this makes a world of difference. I go to Walmart salon which happens to have a pretty decent stylist there & I pay like $15.00. Obviously if she keeps it in check, then she won't have to deal with that big of a birds nest. I would go with a shorter bob, just to make it easier on her as there will be less tangling. The more you brush the tougher the scalp gets so I would start getting it done daily. Also look for brushes with wide set bristles & make sure they are solid. not the kind with the little short one next to the long solid as this kid tends to snag with thick hair. Poor thing, it really does hurt. oh & let the conditioner sit for a few minutes before washing it out. best of luck. Oh also a stylist can cut the under layer of her hair short so that it doesn't get tangled, but looks funny if she does pony tails, but is an idea if you decide to go with a short bob.

3 moms found this helpful

I am pregnant with my second and it got to the point with my 6 year old that i just couldn't do her hair anymore. She didn't want to do it right so we cut it off. She actually loves her hair short to the shoulder and takes care of it on her own now.

I would tell her if she doesn't take care of it, you are going to have it cut off. That is what my mom did.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi, J.! Could you take your daughter to get a new hair cut that is maybe shorter and layered a bit? I know she has thick hair, but a good stylist would know exactly what to do with her hair. I bet she would feel differently about taking care of her hair if she had a new do that is stylish and "hip"!

2 moms found this helpful

I say cut it so it's easier to manage! About six months ago we cut my 8yr old SD's hair from waist length to above the shoulders so she could wash and brush it herself. We where having problems with knots as well. She'd give in to brushing but would cry so much I couldn't stand to do it to her! She didn't like her hair being very messy but prefered it to having the knots brushed out. As soon as her hair was cut, all problems went away! She could wash and brush it all herself, and didn't mind doing it! Without having to be told to, she'd brush it every morning and after washing. I HATED seeing her beautiful hair cut, but I'd rather have her clean and able to take care of it herself!

2 moms found this helpful

Cut it short and don't let her grow it out until she's mature enough to take care of it.

2 moms found this helpful

THere are two consequences.

1 Do your hair or it will be cut short.
2. Let her go to school with a rat's nest on her head and let the other children tease her.

My mom cut my hair. I still rememnber how mad I was.
My rule with my girls, they have very long hair, is they keep it clean and brushed or I get to take care of it and I'll have Carla, our hairdresser, cut it off. I even showed them pictures of little boy cuts that I would give them.
THey also know I will follow through.

1 mom found this helpful

i had a similar problem with my sister when she was little...WHAT I DID? CUT HER HAIR OFF .....take her to the salon and ask them to cut her hair in a way that you'll don't need to brush it or take care of it and at the same way looks cute.
if she doesn't like the idea of cutting her hair off then will be much better cause when her hair grow back she'll take care of it.......believe me...it works.






1 mom found this helpful

I use Johnson's No more tangles leave in conditioner on mine, which keeps it from getting too bad and sometimes I use my kiddo's de-tangler when there are knots.

1 mom found this helpful

Yep, cutting is the solution! My 8-year old was the same way when her hair was longer. She still wants long hair but she just won't take care of it and she ends up looking like a ragamuffin!

We got it cut above her shoulders and thinned (layered). I also use Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner. For some reason it works really well for detangling. We also put in the Garnier Fructis no frizz serum when it's damp and that seems to help keep it from tangling as well when it's dry.

She still cries when we go to the salon to get it cut because she wants it long but she still doesn't take care of it when it's short! I've told her that when she can take care of it then she can grow it out again.

Good luck! As you can see, you're not alone!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello! I don't have thick hair but my daughter does.

You have not failed your daughter. You are trying to teach her hygiene but I don't think you are listening to her completely - she says it HURTS to brush her hair.

With a daughter with thick, wavy hair, I know how fast it can get tangled. What bothers me about your post is that your daughter states that brushing her hair hurts. I wonder if she has a sensitive scalp or something else. Talk to your pediatrician about this - the fact that she says brushing her hair HURTS!!

We used the Johnson & Johnson No more tangles as I truly don't believe that conditioner in the shower works. When my daughter's hair (she's now 23) got tangled, we would watch our favorite TV show, she would sit between my legs on the floor and I would start from the bottom and work my way up her hair - NOT AT THE TOP of the knot by the time the show was over, we would have the knot/tangle taken care of.

I have a girlfriend who has hair that is thick and wavy as well, she wears a night cap to bed, which she says helps her hair.

Hope this information helps.


1 mom found this helpful

My granddaughter is now 9 and just recently become interested in her hair. I think part of her gaining interest is that her mother stopped being so involved with hair care. She told her that her hair was up to her to take care of.

My granddaughter also has thick, wavy/curly hair which her mother kept long. My granddaughter also protested having it brushed because it hurt. My daughter told her that she would have to have her hair cut shorter when she was around 8 or else stop the fussing when she brushed it. Coincidentally, her mother had her hair cut around the same time.

My granddaughter then cut her own hair to shoulder length and it looked OK. But my daughter had it professionally cut and it looked great. A professional haircut thins and layers the ends so that they tangle less. They now keep it no longer than shoulder length. After that my granddaughter took over brushing her own hair. She doesn't do a really good job of it but it's presentable. Tangles seem to come out when she shampoos her hair. A leave in conditioner helped.

My granddaughter shampoos her own hair in the shower and stopped using the conditioner. She towel dries it without combing or brushing it until it's dry. Rarely are there tangles any more.

I'm a volunteer at school. Most of the girls at this age have messy hair. Not serious tangles but not smooth either. So I wouldn't be concerned about your daughter learning life skills. I suggest that if you turn the responsibility over to her that she will become interested. At first my granddaughter had to be reminded to brush her hair before leaving the house. Now she does it on her own. She sprays her hair lightly with water and brushes it from the top down all the way around. She's learned how to tease out small tangles but she doesn't always do that.

I suggest you let her take over the job. If the length of her hair contributes to the problem, suggest to her that she'll have to have shorter hair. Make it a matter of fact, that's just the way it is, sort of situation. Back away from "making" her do anything. She has a choice. She brushes her hair or you do. If long hair is too difficult then we'll have short hair. Use this technique over 2-4 weeks being as low key but consistent as you can. Gradually turn over the responsibility to her, while maintaining some loose boundaries. Keep in mind that how she looks is not of much importance to her yet but it will become so sooner if you make less of an issue of it. Let her hair be messy but reasonably free of tangles. Not tangle free. Once she takes over the job she will likely gain in interest and do a better job but this takes time.

1 mom found this helpful

My 9 year old is the same way with knots and not caring....I make her try herself, but if she can't get the knots out, then I spray some detangler on it and starting at the bottom of the tangle, work my way up and untangle it....it never hurts her - she used to cry about me brushing her hair when she was 7, but she is past that now...and now she doesn't hardly feel me untangling it any way, so she has nothing to cry about. I don't give her an option to not brush her hair - I am the boss and it is a house rule to groom yourself...so she can't fight me on it. If she doesn't follow the rules, she gets her privileges taken away. At 9 years old she should be old enough to follow your directions and not cry or whine. Just give her your expectations and be consistent - good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

J. G

my 10 going on 11 year old has almost waist length VERY curly hair. She also did not like to have it comb/brushed.

The first thing I did was to tell her that she had 2 choices take care of it or have it cut short. She LOVES her long hair and wants it long enough to sit on. The way I handled care of her hair and teaching her to do it herself was to first have 1 good brushing session to get ALL the knots and mats out. Then I taught her to finger comb her hair in the shower with TONS of conditioner every day (morning or evening her choice). Her hair has alomost no tangles as long as she does the finger combing in the shower.


It's true. Cutting it is the solution. I was the same way at her age. I just COULD NOT care any less, even when kids asked why it was messy. It got cut short and stayed that way until I was able to care for it as a teen and grow it long. Why fight it? Good luck!

Dear mom! I have three daughter with the same type of hair. First make sure that her hair is washed with a mild shampoo with mosturizing agents. some black hair care product are good because they have softening agents African American hair tends to get dry and or course. do not use any products with alcohol base in them because it tends to dry the hair. always use a leave in condition to keep the hair soft and manageable. all hair types starts with a good shampoo and conditioner maybe once or twice a month try a deep conditioner. Braiding the hair in big plats and then letting it loose for other styles will alway keep your daughter hair soft. a good wide tooth come and a brush with good bristle will get out the kinks .Pink Oil Mosturizer is very good with damp hair then brush and style it. Never brush your daughters hair dry because it will pull which will cause the pain to her head and may give her headaches at times. Tie her hair down at night after styling to keep a longer lasting style. and visit a hairdresser at least once or twice a month her ends to be trimed but never cut her hair that decision should be hers when she is old enough to do so, because she may come into the problem of her hair growing back fast, and it would be fun for her to do when she gets older if she chooses to cut her hair. make it a girls day out and show her the fun part of being a girly girl. know your daughter hair type because some parents want their little girls hair to be free flowing and long some children can not wear their hair loose all the time. If your daughter has thick hair it is best that she wear it in a style to keep it manageable and then let her wear it out only on occasions. These are easy and fun tips that will save time and money and both you guys the agony of fight with hair. blessings.

My daughter's hair is very fine, but when she was younger, it was long and would get extremely tangled - just from sleeping on it overnight. She wouldn't brush it because it hurt too much. She wanted a perm, which we let her get as a birthday gift, and as beautiful as it looked, it was a mistake because it was even worse and harder to take care of. We eventually cut it in a short bob, which was much easier to manage, and she finally started taking care of it herself. So, we thankfully don't have the fights and crying about brushing anymore!

I didn't ready any of the other responses, but I had to say that my daughter is nine and is EXACTLY the same way with her hair. After struggling with her for so long, I took her to get it cut to a manageable length. But I know what you mean when you say you feel you have failed her, but you haven't. Just continue to do things for her is she refuses to do them, and I guarantee that one day she will not want you to do that stuff anymore. She will want to be a big girl and take care of herself. To me, hygeine is non-negotiable and if my daughter doesn't want me to do it for her, then she needs to show me that she can do it properly.

Our daughter has always had thick wavy hair. She has it thinned by a professional hair stylist. Early on I gave this woman a heads up that my daughter wanted to do her hair without my help, since "I did not do it right." She is the only one that has ever been able to cut it and teach our daughter how to care for her hair. This women is really cool and always really takes care of my daughter. I leave them alone so that it is my daughters time to get all of the attention.
Our daughter is now in College and still uses this same person.

This is how I coped, maybe it will help :)

Go to a GOOD salon and have it thinned. (aka layered)

You have to be careful during the cut, or she will come out with a bob cut. I learned that the hard way. I now stay with the hairstylist and monitor how much they cut off, but the layers help a lot, and cut it to just below sholder length. Still long hair, but easier to manage, lighter to carry and does not hurt to brush.

Be careful of the neckline of her clothes. Every time I wear my wool coat, I have huge knots at the nape of my neck, so I wear a silk scarf over my collar to keep the knots at bay, however, turtlenecks cause serious damage even if I wear my hair up. My daughter keeps these out of her wardrobe.

You can also switch to a silk pillowcase at night to help keep it from knotting. We could not afford that so we use terrycloth ponytails, gathered in sections down the back of the head, while the hair is wet and brushed, to keep it from getting knotted during the night.

My daughters favorite now is a loose braid at night. Keeps her hair still wet by morning (so thick) so it appears she is freshly washed and can still use a styling gel. I must note that now she is 17, and finally, sometimes, styles her hair. She is still a wash and go type, she is pefectly happy with that (it is not messy, but no effort went into it). I was more concerned about my hair at her age, but she is beautiful and I love her just as "granola" as she is.

It is a long road, but you both will get there!

my 10 yo daughter is the same way and i have it cut chin length and use a heavy conditioner and the spray in/leave in kind. That way she can brush thru it herself. Good luck!

This age is tough. It's pretty normal for hygiene to be lacking at this point although it's more common for boys than girls. I would take her to a salon and have her hair cut and, most importantly, thinned. If they thin it with thinning shears, it will make all the difference in the world! You will have to go to a salon though, I've never had any luck at a Hair Cuttery type place - they just don't have the technique. Also maybe mention to her that if she lets it go or constantly puts it in a pony tail, her hair will start to break off and she could end up with little to no hair!!!! Get the hairdresser to back you up. If you live in the Richmond area I can recommend someone who would be more than happy to have a talk with her while cutting her hair (no, I'm not affiliated, she's just a super good stylist and I know she would do the talk). Good luck!

CDM2KK said exactly what I would: "Silk" or biosilk. You can find it at Costco for $9 for a bottle that will last for months.

Towel dry hair, put a dime to quarter size amount in your palms, work it through then ends of the hair. It will brush through and feel great. Better yet, when she wakes up with a tumbleweed on her head the silk will allow a brush to pass through it like a hot knife through butter. My DD would scream when I brushed her hair and no amount of conditioner or detangler worked as well as silk does. She is now asking to grow her hair out. Win! GL!!

Cut it to her ears so it will be harder to get knots in it, tell her since she wont take care of her hair its getting cut plan and simple, I used to hate doing it also but my mom took my to get my hair trimmed and told the person that does it that it needs to come to above my neck.

I don't want to sound harsh but I think that you should get your daughter hair cut. That sounds exactly like me at the age, didn't care how I looked and didn't want to brush it. One day my mom found that my hair was one BIG knot and it took my mom 2 hour to fix, and still I didn't care. So my mom decide off with it if I can't or won't take care of it and believe or not that was my wake-up call going from long beautiful hair to almost looking like a boy (well in my opinion back in the day). Every since then I take care of my hair.

Now on a side note if u really don't want to cut it I would suggest to buy hair detangling spray and leave-in conditioners and wash 3 to 4 times a week. That's what I do we my 2 1/2 year old. Her hair is very curly and gets tangle just looking at it.

Well good luck in whatever you decide.

My 6 yo had the same problem. Her hair was thick and wavy and no matter what we did , there were these huge knots and when we brushed she would scream. I would slather it with conditioner and run to her as soon as her shower was done to try to brush it right away and use leave in conditioner. Finally she decided to cut it into a cute chin length bob. The hair dresser told me it wasn't trimmed often enough and that was why it was that way. I'm not sure if that is true or she just has bad hair, but now she can brush it with no problems, no tears, and no need for conditioner. Now that summer is coming, can you convince her a shorter hair style will be cool for her?

obviously cutting it is the best idea, but cowboy magic is another really wonderful detangler that can work miracles if you choose to keep her hair long. it works on horses' tails...it will work on your kid!

I have friends with curly hair and their children have curly hair as well. They all swear by the book, "Curly Girl". Maybe she could read it and learn how to take care of her hair herself. If she doesn't want to take care of it herself, cutting it is really the only way.

My 4 year old already acts that way , and I hate every day that goes by trying to do her hair and hers is thin but getting long I told her im gonna do what my mom did to me cut it off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Make it very short then there wont be no more problem if she dont quit it!!! Mabey that is an idea. I know little girls look better with longer hair buit if they cant take care of it at 9 yrs old and wont let thier moms then CUT IT!!!!!! At 4 they need tolet mommy do it if not then if its gonna be every day a big ordeal just to do hair for her I may cut hers and I am not JOKING!!! Oh especially if your daughter dont care how she looks cut it off......... I know u care make sure its adorable the haircut and easy to manage no more worries til time for haircut again LOL Ps Oh and definetly keep it in a bun or a pony tail or braid at night after brushing and getting tangles out this way the hair dont get all knotted up all over again while tossing and turning while sleeping my 4 yr old has thin long hair and just from not keeping it up at night and tossing and tunin at night she has woke up looking like a big bees nest omg horrible knotts goood lord........... that no mom wants to deal with anywhere in this entire world trust me.. so keep it up for sure a bun is best ...PSS. And after she gets out of shower put conditioner good stuff in her hair and leave it comb or brush through then put it up okay.....

My daughter had terribly thick, tangle hair as a child, and she ignored it and cried bitterly when I tried to help her wash it or brush it. The solution was to cut it short and leave her alone. After she hit pubery (around age 12 or so), she started taking care of it. Now, at almost 18, she has beautiful, long, thick hair that is the envy of all her friends.

Your daughter will either outgrow this problem or learn to like short, easier hair. If still has no interest in self-care or hygine after puberty, I'd consider getting her evaluated. Before then, that's just how some kids are. Unless you have other concerns about her behavior, I'd just let it go and enjoy her. You won't believe how fast childhood flies by.

Good luck!

I would forced her to cut her hair very short like A boy

If she is unable to care for that much hair then perhaps you should cut her hair to a shorter style that is easier to care for. My daughter is the same age and is growing out her hair but that is a privilage not a right. If she is unwilling to do what is necessary for maintenence, then the hair goes.

As a hairstylist my suggestion would be to try a mild relaxer. This will make it easier for her to brush her hair without it hurting and also prevent tangles, especially when it is wet. Speak with your stylist about this. I have had GREAT success with others in this situation.

You can do a couple of things. Get a hair brush for hair extensions which is more foregiving and flexible. Or and a leave in conditioner in the shower plus brush the conditioner thru while her hair is wet with the extension brush. Make the experience fun by having fun type bottles for her to use. I've seen some fun looking kids product lines.

I have curly hair and now thay make a lot for it. We couldn't cut mine off because when I was little, no matter what we did I looked like Big Bird. Have u tried the new brushes for thick hair by Goody that are made to detangle. They are cheapest at Walmart. I was so happy when I bought mine after a friend told me, and now I use it on my 9 year old son's since it is now hip for boys to have longer hair and he is growing it out a bit. The only other thing I can suggest is the detangling solution by Biolage. My mom had to buy it when I was younger after the family stylist gave her some, because it was the only thing that worked to stop my screaming fits when she brushed my hair, yes they still make it. I called it dragon juice when I was little because I thought it was magic . I use both and it is so worth it.

my girls' hair need to be brushed everyday as well and even if it is they have plenty of knots the next day as they have curly hair. they hate it but i make them sit in front of me almost every day so i can do their hair. one is 10 the other is 5. my one suggestion other than making her let you brush it everyday is to cut it short so that its easier for her to manage. maybe a layered look to thin it out or a bob until she can learn to keep her hair brushed on her own.

Take her to salon and have her hair styled in short and easy haircut. Use hair detangler spray before trying to brush her hair.

My 11 YO daughter has very thick hair and it was a daily struggle to comb it. It would take me up to 15 minutes to comb it even using detangler, etc. We eventually cut it to her shoulders, which she wanted, and the combing is no longer an issue. I wish we had done it sooner.

either make her do it or cut it short

My daughter had thick curly hair and mornings were a nightmare. So I had it cut short. She started to grow it long when she was 16 and then wanted to look clean and tidy. She could brush it herself and I insisted she did brush it. You have to tell them what to do they will not work it out for themselves anytime soon. It is easier not to bother so unless you insist on basic hygiene she won't bother. Teeth cleaning is another thing kids do not care to do, so you have to insist. My Grandson would go all week without cleaning his teeth or having a wash. He also has thick curly hair and wants it longer but he doesn't make as much fuss as my daughter did, he is 10 and is just realising he wants it cut as it is in his eyes. I do have to tell him everyday to brush his teeth and hair. I do not make a fuss on non school days if he doesn't bother with the wash. I do pick my battles!

If you don't want to have her hair cut short you will have to make sure she washes it regularly and brushes it daily. One thing about hair is it grows, so cutting out the knots into an attractive style could well be the answer.

Brushing more often will make it hurt less when it is brushed. I think that someone else suggested pantene - if you put it just on the back part of her hair then you don't have to worry about getting it in her eyes. Wash her hair every other day, but condition every day and it should help. Also, brush when pretty wet, or her hair will get frizzy and more likely to be tangled.

Do you (or she) know how to french braid? That's a good way for keeping the knots out either overnight or when you know there's going to be a day or two when you can't get conditioner in her hair.

The rule with my daughter is that we brush her hair twice/day - once in the morning and once before bed. If she doesn't want it brushed, we can cut it short. The end. Good luck. I also have "problem hair," so I feel her/your pain!

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