Way back in November 2011, I wrote a post called In Defense of Nail Biters. At the end of the article, I gave the following advice to parents whose kids bite their nails:
If you have a kid who bites his or her nails, please just leave them alone and let them grow out of it on their own. The more you push, the more they’ll bite. Please don’t feed the cycle.
I’m sorry to say that I have not been taking my own advice. Oh sure, I leave Gabi alone about biting her nails, but there’s this other habit that she’s developed that I bug her about constantly. Gabi has the habit of twisting and twisting her hair until it is tied in knots. We call this “making dreadlocks , and we constantly pester her to stop. When I brush her hair and I can tell it’s really tangled, I always ask, “Have you been making dreadlocks?” And she always hangs her head and says yes.
Thinking about it, though, how is “making dreadlocks” fundamentally different from nail biting?
Hard truth? It isn’t, and I’ve been shaming my kid about it, and that is not okay.
Man, that is so hard to write. Acknowledging that I have a problem, though, is an important step in making positive changes.
I need to get honest with myself. Why does the dreadlock making bother me so much?
- It makes tangles that are hard to comb. She combs her own hair for the most part, and isn’t what what conditioner and detangler is for? It is her hair. If she is not bothered by it, I need to not be either.
- It breaks her hair. I originally wrote that sentence as, “It breaks the hair.” I had to go back and rewrite it. It’s not the hair, it’s her hair. Like fingernails, hair grows. I need to let this go.
- It leaves her hair looking perpetually messy. She’s a little girl full of energy, bounciness, and excitement. Her hair will never be perfectly coiffed. Mine sure never was. I need to let her get on with more important things like swinging on swings and following ants.
And for some reason, and I have no idea why, it’s almost like I take the dredlock making as a personal attack. Like she’s doing it just to bug me especially. And that is completely irrational. There is some baggage deep inside that I can’t pinpoint that I am asking my five-year-old to carry. And that is not fair to her.
As an adult, it is up to me to set the tone of the relationship. I can make our relationship about pestering and nagging, or one of peace and attachment.
Right here, right now, I am choosing peace and attachment.
This is me, sitting down, taking stock of where we are in our family, and making the decision to take my own advice. I’m not going to bother Gabi about her hair anymore. We’ve got better things to do.