Latayne’s Corner: What’s Under the Tangled Hair?

Credit: Rodolfo Barretto

What’s Under the Tangled Hair?

by Latayne C. Scott

You’d think that child psychologists would have things figured out IRL –in real life. But sometimes we figure things out as we go along.

A colleague, Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine, and a practicing psychologist (emPATH Clinical Services). She’s also the mother of a four-year-old daughter who began pitching what we’d call here in Texas a wall-eyed screaming fit when her mom tried to comb her long, tangled blonde hair before school.

Mentalizing and the Formula OPEN

In an article, she describes how she tried reasoning, rewards, new brushes, other tactics, but nothing worked. Not until she used a technique she calls mentalizing, and followed a formula she calls OPEN, did she discover the hair battle wasn't about her own mother-daughter dynamics.

O, in her formula, is an examination of one’s Own emotions. Though this is hard to do when you’re tussling with a stubborn child, Borelli advises stepping back and seeing if you are transferring some of your own tensions from other situations onto this one.

P is for Pause—to examine if your child may be operating on emotions of fear, or situations you might not immediately know about.

E is for Engage—by asking open-ended questions during a less stressful time about what the child is experiencing. One example: “I’m wondering if something is upsetting you a lot.”

N is for New experiences. A parent can learn that a child becomes upset in certain situations not because of the particular scenario but because of something quite different, almost unnoticeable to a parent but important to a child.

In Dr. Borelli’s story, she found her daughter wasn’t objecting to the pain of hair brushing, nor typical four-year old authority testing. It turns out that her daughter was the only blonde in the after-school program, and her neatly-styled hair made her stand out. Borelli found this out through casual questioning and was able to compromise with a gradual progression from tangled hair to a less-styled version than before.

How about you? Do you have techniques that have helped you with an inexplicable situation?

About the Author

Latayne C. Scott is the author of 25 published books and thousands of magazine articles. She is co-author with Dr. Beth Robinson of Protecting Your Child from Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger (Bethany, 2019) and an upcoming book about how to talk to teens about sex (also to be published by Bethany.) She blogs with Dr. Beth Robinson at

Her latest books are What Will Be Made Plain: An Amish Ghost Story (TSU Press, 2019), A Conspiracy of Breath (TSU Press, 2017), The Parables of Jesus (TSU Press, 2017), and as a contributor to Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds (Kregel, 2017).

Connect with Latayne at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

You can read “Latayne’s Corner” on the 4th Friday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

#Parenting #TangledHair #Hair #Children #Parenting #LatayneCScott

Young Living Banner.Lavender.jpg
Gillette on Demand.jpg
Boxed Wholesale Delivered
Ambit Energy
Finally Family Homes.LOGO.jpg
Rakuten Ebates.jpg

© Joanne Troppello and Mustard Seed Sentinel, 2019. Unauthorized usage or duplication of any content published on this website without specific written permission from the site owner is strictly prohibited. With appropriate and specific guidance, excerpts and links may be used provided full definitive credit is given to Joanne Troppello, the contributor, and Mustard Seed Sentinel. Publication start date March 2016. MSS is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

DISCLAIMER: MSS reserves the right to remove comments on articles and in the forum that are not in line with our family-friendly brand and faith-based Christian magazine theme. Please make every effort to comment on articles and participate in the chat rooms in a friendly way that is devoid of profanity and hateful speech. MSS reserves the right to decline site membership (both the free membership and paid subscription membership) to any members who are violating our requests to keep this online community family-friendly. No spam links or comments will be allowed. Spam, profanity, and hateful speech will be deleted.

Freelance content submissions are always welcome and can be submitted through the submit button on the top of the Home Page underneath the header. All submissions are subject to review and possible rejection if the content does not meet quality standards. Edits may be suggested or required for some submissions. At this time, compensation is not given for submissions. However, as the Mustard Seed Sentinel readership grows, financial compensation will be provided for freelancers who submit appropriate and acceptable content for publication, such as the following: author interviews they've completed, guest blogs, or news articles. All freelancers will have their byline listed. NOTE: Mustard Seed Sentinel is a family-friendly publication and only appropriate faith-based content will be accepted.

This magazine is available for free online.

If you like our content and want to support

this publication, feel free to donate below.

Our paid subscription page is for paying members only. Engaging content, educational information, and interactive activities like webinars, as well as podcasts, are available for these paying members.

Publication of Mustard Seed Marketing Group, LLC