Grabbing and pulling hair, much like kicking, pinching and hitting, is one of the many ways toddlers express themselves. It’s usually as an act of frustration, or, in some cases, used as a coping mechanism. Despite the reasons behind your tot’s actions, it’s never ok for them to pull on their own hair, or someone else’s. Here are some great tips on how you can tackle your tot’s hair pulling:
Why is your toddler pulling hair?
Toddlers often start pulling their own, or other people's hair, as a way of controlling their environment. Young toddlers often do this as they can see it gets a reaction, and will probably continue this behaviour to get further reactions. Another reason for your toddler’s hair pulling is to stop things they don’t like from happening. While for older tots, it’s often a way of controlling the situation. This can occur in sibling rivalry, disagreements with friends or often to get their parents’ attention.
Show them hair pulling doesn’t work
If your tot pulls the hair of another child to get your attention, make sure you direct your sympathy towards the child whose hair has just been pulled. Act quickly to the incident and tell your tot: “we don’t pull hair.” It’s important that your tot knows that it's not ok for them to pull hair, because if you do nothing to stop your toddler, they will learn that pulling hair is a way to get what they want without comeback.
Discourage repeated hair pulling
It’s best to use a firm and consistent response when it comes to your tot’s hair pulling. Your little one will be too young to understand the concept of time-out, but explaining to your toddler the reasons on why hair pulling isn't acceptable should enable them to understand that this behaviour is wrong.
Talk about the problem
They may not be talking much but it’s still important that your little one learns that they should resolve their conflicts through conversation, and nothing else. With a young toddler explain how their actions upset you and others with their hair pulling. With an older toddler, question their behaviour and wait for them to give you recognition about why what they did was wrong. Communication is key when it comes to tackling your toddler's behavioural problems.