“My nine-year-old has asked, but to me, it does not feel appropriate for a little girl to put chemicals on her head to alter her looks,” says Sally Bonaldo, a mother in Lindsay, Ont. “I also don’t want her to put so much value on her appearance. Sure, I get my hair coloured, but I’m an adult. she is a child.”
Kim Hennekam, a mom from Omemee, Ont., agrees, even though her tween daughter hasn’t asked—yet. “I’m jealous of the highlights she was born with, and I want her to realize that her natural look is beautiful. I also don’t want her to start damaging her hair at such a young age,” says Hennekam. “However, I realize I may not have as much say as she gets older.”
Winnipeg mom Kelly Robinson* takes her 10-year-old daughter to get professional pink highlights as a way to boost her confidence and self-image. “She loves pink, and she gets tons of compliments on how great it looks. She’s dealing with a lot of difficult issues right now, like health problems and family illness, and the positive comments help give her a better outlook on life,” says Robinson.Alyson Schafer, a Toronto psychotherapist, explains that changing their appearance is an exploratory phase for kids as they try to figure out their identity, and it can be used as a springboard for conversation.“When you ban something, you make it more interesting.” Parents can still state their own values and opinions, she says. “For example, you might say, ‘When I see people with multicoloured hair I find it harsh or distancing,’ or ‘I’m worried about chemicals on your hair,’ or ‘I’m not willing to pay for it.’ It’s all fodder for conversation.” personally, says Schafer, she sees nothing wrong with letting kids try out different hairstyles. “My mother was an art teacher, and she used to say your hair is a renewable resource, so have fun with it!”
But epidemiologist Bruce Lanphear, a specialist in preventative medicine with the Child and Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital, advises parents to discourage hair dye for kids.“This isn’t because we know of any glaring health risks,” he says, “but because fewer than a third of all the chemicals used in consumer products have been tested for things like behavioural toxicity and endocrine disruption, so we just don’t know. Save your money, and reduce unnecessary risks.” You might consider natural hair dyes, clip-in extensions, or wash-out and temporary products such as hair chalks and coloured gels.If you’re just not comfortable with it, it’s also OK to simply say no, says Schafer. “Most kids really do have a great respect for their parents and don’t want to disappoint us. But don’t over-exercise your ability to veto. Be judicious.”From blue to teal to pink to yellow, these looks will make you go ga-ga for ROYGBIV locks!