Jasmine has been brushing her own hair for a few years now (she's nearly 12), it is very long but she loves her hair and seemed to take good care of it. She has it in a ponytail or a plait all the time nowadays, she used to always wear it loose. The last couple of months I'd noticed it seemed messier than usual and I'd tell her to go and brush it, but was too distracted by moving house to pay much attention. Only in the last couple of days did I realise it was very tangled indeed, and she'd been actively hiding the fact from me (she is a physical coward and avoids anything that might hurt, like me brushing knots out of her hair). Last night I held her still and investigated. It was so much worse than I had imagined. The whole back of her head is a matted lump almost like felt. It's not obvious because there is a comb-over of smooth hair over the top, but as soon as you touch it you can feel this ball of tightly tangled hair. She blames her new brush - which was supposed to be "de-tangling"! I guess she'd just been avoiding the problem hoping it would go away as it got worse and worse. And I felt like the worst mother in the universe to not pick up on it before now.
I was scared at first that it was unsalvageable, that she would literally have to get the back of her head shaved and just have short hair around her face until it grew back. This would devastate her, she loves her long hair. But we sat and watched Biggest Loser and I spent an hour gently working on it with a variety of brushes and combs, and some olive oil to help it slip. I tried to remain upbeat and positive with her, and it did gradually untangle at the edges. In that hour I would say I fixed way less than a quarter of the felting. But at least it's a start. An hour every night for a week might get us there without her losing all her hair - only the hundreds of strands coming out on the brush.
I feel so horribly horribly guilty that I didn't notice.
I think it is very typical of her to ignore problems, avoid pain or discomfort, hope any source of trouble will just go away without her mentioning it or taking any action, go along with whatever is easiest. A bit worrying for her upcoming teenage years.