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Children's author Tola Okogwu has some extremely good ideas...

When I first started doing my daughter’s hair the question I was most often asked was, ‘How do you get her to sit still?’, writes children’s author Tola Okogwu. I was even asked once if I did it when she was asleep. I think the look of horror on my face must have said it all. Those hard-earned minutes when my daughter is blissfully comatose are far too precious to risk doing anything stupid like her hair. It did get me thinking however, about my personal methods of keeping her distracted and occupied through what can sometimes be an hour or more of styling. So here are some of my top tips…

1. Make sure your child is well rested and fed

A tired or hungry child makes for a very fidgety and cranky child. Bring snacks - lots of them! I am not above using bribery when necessary, just try to avoid messy things like crisps. There’s nothing quite like Organix Carrot Sticks smeared into freshly-braided hair. Also if you have a potty-trained toddler who’s a borderline genius like mine, keep the potty close by. Cries of, 'Pee-pee, Mummy', are usually just a ruse in order to break loose.

2. Create a routine

I started styling my daughter’s hair well before she was one. Partly because the child had more hair than a wookie but mostly because I wanted to get her used to the process and to create a recognisable routine for her as early as possible. I made Saturday morning ‘hair time’, used a special chair just for the occasion and generally made a big fuss of her. Now when I tell her it’s time to do her hair, she knows exactly what’s going to happen and is much more co-operative.

3. Be prepared to stop and start as necessary

Most children don’t have the patience or attention span to sit still for very long. If they did, we’d just give them crossword puzzles, and forget all that arts and crafts palaver. With my daughter, I tend to break it up into two 20-40 min sessions, depending on the style.

4. Distraction is the key!

Find a favourite toy, game, film or TV show and allow your child to get engrossed in it before starting to style. My daughter is particularly fond of Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First so I have at least 10 episodes recorded at any given point. If that fails, I bring out the big guns… Daddy power! I find nothing is more distracting or entertaining.

5. If all else fails, do it while they’re asleep

Yeah I know I said not to, but a parent’s got to do what a parent’s got to do. I had to do my daughter’s hair whilst breastfeeding once so, believe me, it can be done, if not exactly recommended.

6. Know when to stop

The final one is less of a tip and more of a warning: When your child has had enough, it’s time to stop. There is no point trying to use force; chasing a defiant toddler around the house with a brush in one hand and leave-in conditioner in the other is no fun. So when the tears start falling, put the comb down.

:: Tola Okogwu’s book, Daddy Do My Hair!, is due for release on October 1.



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