Children’s hair: To dye or not to dye?



When I was a young girl, I had a lot of hair issues. I had very curly hair. Extremely curly hair. Still do. However, my family was, for the most part, a straight hair one. My mother had no idea how to tame my curls. She had no idea how to comb my curls. My hair was beyond wild. Back then, not as many people appreciated such wild hair. Nowdays, if my kid had such wild hair he  would be a star. Well, depends on the area. Anyway, I had a hard time with my hair. I had dreams of one day taming it.   Eventually I did.



I know that my crazy hair gave my mom many headaches. And my desire to dye my hair did not ease those aches. She made it very clear to me that I was to not dye my hair before the age of 18. Everything was contingent on the age of 18. Mind you, I went away to boarding school at age 13. I could have dyed my hair there and dyed back to black before the holidays and she would not have known.   I was a good girl and thus I did not do anything to my hair that she disapproved of. I am not too sure why she felt that dyeing my hair was more of something that I should do as an adult. Actually, I do remember. She thought it would signal to the world that I was older than I actually was. She felt that a young girl could not understand the full ramifications of hair dye. She felt that the world already wanted to age children too quickly and thus she gave a hard “no” on hair dye.


Perhaps because of my mom’s staunch line against hair dye, I really wanted to dye my hair. I wanted what I believe every other girl wanted. I wanted to dye my hair purple. That was just the coolest seeming color.  Once in college, I proceeded to do so. Nowadays, I’m blonde an dmy son hasn’t even really processed that change. Go figure. My mom would have a good laugh, about this all.


On my son’s first day of school, I picked him up from after school somewhat eager to see his schoolmates. I was curious as to who had returned.   What I saw shocked me. My son is in fourth grade. He just turned nine years old. I immediately noticed that one of his female classmates had blue hair. It was fully dyed blue and a cute bob haircut on top of it all. She looked quite hip. Then I saw one of his friends who used to have long hair last year. He not only cut his hair into a cute Justin Beiber cut (sort of), but he also dyed his hair blonde.  I stared at him to make sure it was the same boy I knew from last year. He looked at me staring at him. Then, he immediately saw my hair color change and we bonded over our newly shared hair color.   We giggled for a bit.


After we bonded and laughed, I took a step back mentally. This is an eight year old boy who just dyed his hair blonde.  The girl had blue hair.   Since when is fourth grade a fashion runway?


We all have different parenting styles and different realities and lives that we lead. I think I would love to tinker with my son’s hair at a later age. I would love to give him some snazzy haircuts. However, I am not too sure about the hair dye. Honestly, I still love having him be my baby and hair dye would just age him in my eyes. I guess I will see in perhaps four years how I feel then. Till that time, I’ll enjoy seeing him just as he is: my little baby boy.


12 replies »

  1. I just feel like life is too short not to have fun with your hair. Hair is one of those things, it will always grow back (assuming you’re lucky enough not to have a disease that hinders it), you can always dye it another color, or style it a different way. I understand the point about hair dye aging a child, but at the same time, children have such rigid rules all the time anyway, because that is how they grow and learn. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to have fun with your hair and your personality, especially at a young age when kids are trying to figure out who they really are. If I was going to dye a child’s hair, I would want to talk to them about it for a while first, why do they really want to do it? “Because Jessica dyed hers” wouldn’t be a valid excuse for me. Or if they said they wanted to look “hot” or “sexy” because that is not something kids need to be worried about. If the kid said they wanted to do it because it would be fun, or because it fits their personality, and they were really doing it because it mattered to them, I’d be ok with it. I really think communication is key in situations like this. Getting kids to think critically is a beautiful thing. I had a friend who all throughout jr. high and high school she was allowed to make major decisions for herself, but anything major she wanted to do, she had to present a list to her grandparents (she lived with them) of the pros and cons of the decision. I remember when she got her nose pierced somewhere around sophomore year, and they let her because she was able to fully comprehend all the pros and cons and understand issues that might arise along the way. She was always such a strong person and new what she wanted for herself as well as her own boundaries. I really think her grandparents’ approach helped her develop those skills. We can try to keep kids little forever, but the truth is they are going to grow up anyway, so we might as well help them do it right. Sometimes I feel like the “wait till 18” thing puts a lot of pressure on a kid. At 18, when all of this gets dumped in your lap that you can do it finally, a lot of kids go overboard because they really aren’t sure how to handle the newfound responsibility for themselves. I think teaching them that early can be very skillful if done in the right way. And if dying their hair gives them confidence and makes them feel more comfortable in their own skin, I wouldn’t deny them that. However, if that desire to dye their hair is based on the acceptance of others, they need a few more lessons first 🙂

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  2. 4th graders want to grow up too fast. They are very fashion conscious. I say this as a fprmer teacher. Nowadays, once they get to 3rd grade, all the things you associate with teenagers, these kids want to be. I guess it’s like playing dress up.

    I was almost shocked recently to see a recent picture of my 31-year-old niece on Facebook, who apparently has gone back to her natural color, blonde, after years of having been a brunette. She looks fabulous!

    Conclusion: Little kids want to be what they perceive as teenagers, teenagers want to be what they perceive as adults, adults want to go back to what they really are!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had the wild and curly hair as a child as well, and my mother had no clue how to style it, so she just chopped it off. i looked like a boy for most of elementary school and was teased, so I can somewhat relate to your story of hair. In my case, my rebellion has come in the form of letting my hair grow out long and refusing to cut it because I was so traumatized by having horrible hair as a kid. So I think it’s awesome that you’re allowing yourself to color your hair. Go, girl!


  4. I went from my natural brown to blond six years ago. My mother still has not accepted it.

    I’m 43.

    I’m with the “have fun, hair grows” crowd, but I don’t have kids, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My daughter lightened her hair as a kid, almost 30 years ago, and I colored my hair until I turned 50 and let it go gray. I think it comes down to the point of coloring. If it’s just for fun, then go for it. If it’s because they feel somehow ugly or inadequate or pressured, then perhaps some conversation about what is “beauty” needs to accompany the decision. 🙂

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  6. I am a walking contradiction. My son is on the autism spectrum and has a very odd sense of style. I like to support whatever makes him feel comfortable so I allowed him to wear whatever he wants including girl’s clothing. However, I am a little worried about chemically treating his hair. In fairness, I still have virgin hair so I am not an expert.


  7. These decisions can be tough. I try to give my teen daughter as many choices as I can, within boundaries. I allow more as I see her become ready. I also want her to be comfortable in her own skin. The teen years one tries on so many hats on as they find themselves. I try to honor what she is discussing with me, and honor her current experience. She will define herself in time. Therefore, I take each decision one at a time. My rule of thumb is that when she is mature enough to make decisions for herself, then I will not try to control such decisions. I have expressed that. I have chosen to avoid the “when you are 18”, or “when you pay your own bills”; because it takes years if one goes certain routes to be able to pay their bills all on their own. I think when I see her doing well in college outside of the home, and making grownup decisions, I will be more open to her making these decisions. I will always love her and see her as amazing, no matter what. But, the whole, at this age, or at this exact moment, you can do this or that, each person finds their way differently. I like having a relationship built on trust and her accepting the knowledge that I set the rules now, and yet, I respect her as a human being in the works, and she is an awesome one at that.


  8. You know, I feel like this is one of those issues that I simply cannot pick a side on. First, I say damn, I’ve never been bold enough to do pink hair and hey let the kids express themselves before they get too serious as adults. Then I think, is this an adult thing to do? Are they doing it because they are artsy or just want to be adults and grow up too fast. Is the message that they are not good as is coming through? Again, I don’t know. I don’t have kids yet but I think I’d let them try semi permanent hair color but then again, maybe in the moment I’ll go into that protective mode of “can’t you just be a kid?!” But maybe we need to redefine what it means to be a kid these days, we say that but the world is. a lot different. Maybe being a kid with dyed hair isn’t so bad for the kids of today?


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