“Ow! Cow!” game somehow makes detangling…fun?

Lynne, when your kid’s asking you to find tangles, you know you’ve got a good hack. Thanks for sending this in:

I don’t know if this counts as a hack, but here is my trick for getting my 5 year-old daughter to let me get the tangles out of her shoulder-length hair, which she insists on growing but can’t stand having brushed or styled in any way.. and by the way she is as active as your wildest boy and has the hair to show it.

Every time she says “ow!” when I hit a snag, I say “cow!” with the exact same inflection as her “ow.” That’s it. “Owie” becomes “cowie” and “ouch” is “couch.” “Ow ow ow!” is “cow cow cow!” You get the idea. The key is to be just as dramatic as she is. She is too busy giggling to notice I am still getting the tangles out. Honestly, one time recently she actually *asked* me to find a really bad tangle, so we could play ow/cow. I am not kidding. Whatever it takes.

Related: Make detangling more fun (less unfun?) by turning it into a game (includes my no-brainer recipe for DIY detangling spray)


  1. Carrie says

    My daughter is 2 and we do the tangle dance every day. She has naturally curly hair, which makes it even worse. To make it easier, I give her a picture book and ask her to tell me the names of the items on the page while I deal with the mess that is her hair. She’s distracted, and I get to get through the snarls while she learns words and shapes and colors.

    This is a great hack for when she’s a bit older. Thanks!

  2. says

    Yanno, I’m not sure if my tip is obscure, or if some kids are just that much more sensitive than I was. But when I was a kid, my mom got around the ouchies by grabbing a hank of hair halfway up and combing from the bottom up – no, not back combing, but combing out the bottom few inches, then moving up a few inches, and so on.

    The trick is to make sure you have a real hard grip on the hair above where you’re combing. Combing this way, you’re always combing through previously detangled hair, so the knots aren’t piling up, and any tugs get “stopped” at your fist, rather than being transferred to the kid’s head.

  3. says

    Recommenting to add: once you’ve finished with one section, you just grab another section until the entire head of hair is combed.

  4. Florabora says

    Yes, as another former child with thick, curly hair, please do what Soni suggests. DON’T just start brushing it from the top down, like people with straight hair do. You really need to hold the hair above the snarl and work at it gently. I used to get headaches around 7 years old because of how my parents de-snarled my hair.