Berkeley Parents Network >
Worries Big & Little >
Help! My 9 month old little boy has been pulling my hair for a
few months now. I've tried everything I can think of. I've tried
pulling it out of his hands or mouth and telling him no, to
giving him something else to play with. I've tried putting my
hair up in a ponytail but he continues to go for my hair. He's
now getting more aggressive and screams when I pull my hair away
from him. I'm passed frustrated and don't know what to do. I'm
about a second from cutting it all off, but it's taken me years
to get it this long and I finally like it. I would deeply
appreciate ANY suggestions. Thank you.
What about simply putting him down, telling him ''you may not
pull my hair'', and walking away. If he screams, let him. I think
it makes the point clear. And 9 months old is not too early to
teach him to respect you, and your physical boundaries, though I
am sure being an infant you are still very physically attached.
I remember wanting to cut off all my hair, too, when our son went
through this stage. It will end, I promise! At the time, I simply
took my hair from his hand and told him no. Reacting strongly
just seemed to make him want to do it more, to see if he could
recreate the effect. I can't say whether it helped, but after
1,000 repetitions he did get over this less-than-adorable phase.
One thing I did notice was that some of the pulling (not all, by
any means) seemed to be an attempt to convey a need--food, milk,
a diaper change, attention. Noticing those times and solving them
for what they were helped me deal with the times when it was
nothing but cause/effect curiosity (or malice, which it felt like
at the time!).
Hang in there--it will pass!
I hate to be blunt, but he's 9 months old and you are the boss. If you don't want him to
pull your hair you need to stop him and put him down when he does. If you do that
enough and consistently, he'll get the message. He'll challenge you much worse down
the road. Sometimes, they just can't get their way, even if they scream. My son would
go after moles on my neck which would be really painful if he pulled or scratched them
so it was not a vanity thing but I would put him down and say no when he did it and he
got the message.
My son is 15 1/2 months old and has been a hairpuller as long
as he could grasp. It's pretty much only my hair he pulls.
He's getting stronger the older he gets and it really hurts!
He does it more when he's tired or cranky. I've been putting
him down as soon as he grabs hold and telling him that it hurts
Mommy when he pulls her hair but he thinks it's funny and it's
not working. I realize he's too young to formally discipline
but he seems to be old enough to understand that it's not ok to
pull hair! Any suggestions??
Though the idea is not terribly popular, I do not believe that 15
months old is too young to use discipline, especially when the
child is hurting you! And hair-pulling, too, which is just painful!
Since he was 12 months old, my son has responded very well to
being placed in his crib for a ''time-out'' of sorts. I didn't
really plan to start time-outs so early, but one day he was
making me crazy so I gave it a go. It was like magic. I only use
it with hitting, throwing, and other hurtful or dangerous
behaviors. No drama from me, just a quick, firm, ''No hitting'' and
up and in, maybe for a minute, sometimes less, sometimes more if
I think he needs the down-time (he is 20 months now). He gets the
message, and the behavior stops (for a while, anyway, maybe even
the whole day if I am lucky!).
Don't put up with the pulling. He CAN understand.
I had this problem with my 14 mo old and one day in frustration,
gave one of her curls a brief but firm tug immediately after I
expressed my pain at her yank of my hair and explained that's
what hair pulling felt like.
I know that sounds draconian, but it worked. She was startled by
the new sensation, but wasn't upset, and she seemed to truly
understand why I didn't like her behavior, and she stopped hair
For her, the hair pulling was a way to get me to move to a new
location with her. She quickly found alternative ways to
communicate her wishes.
No, I really don't think that he IS old enough to understand. Very young
very egoistic, I think they still don't completely get that other people
are separate from
them, or that what they do can be hurtful (it's not hurting *them* after
all!). My 25
month old starting pulling hair a few months ago, and it's been really
frustrating. But I
know it is a phase and it will pass. Hitting her or punishing her is not
the solution, at
least, not for me. I really don't think those kinds of things work
That doesn't mean just put up with it. Keep reiterating that you don't
like it, it hurts,
and you want him to stop.
Tired of Hair Pulling
The hair pulling may be such a stage, or your baby may be
suffering from trichotillomania, the ''hair pulling disease''.
Usually kids pull their own hair, but in my daughter's case, she
pulls mine (and has since she was a baby). She usually does it
when she's tired, and she needs to do it in order to go to sleep.
Fortunately she doesn't pull hard.
Kids tend to grow out of this by the time they are 5 or so -
though I didn't, and I think my daughter won't either (she's
Unconventional advice: pull back! Obviously, enough for him to
feel the discomfort, but not so much that you're harming your
child. He needs to understand why this isn't a fun game. Pull
back every single time. He'll get it quickly.
Natural consequences work best
My 18 mo toddler pulls my hair for comfort, and I'd like to stop
it--it hurts! He started twisting his fingers in my hair during
nursing, and now whenever he's upset he pulls my hair. He's
happiest when he can pull a strand out and can sniff it or mouth
it (yuck!). This isn't an aggressive thing--definitely for
I've tried for months and months to get him attached to a
blanket or a toy for comfort and self-soothing. He likes them,
but when it comes to comfort, my hair is it. I've tried all
kinds of redirection, telling him ''no pulling!'', but nothing
I keep my hair up all the time now; I've thought about cutting
my hair short, but I like it long, and also worry how upset he
Anyone else have this problem? How did you solve it?
Toddler wants me bald
I have the same problem with my daughter (2.9 years old now) and
I haven't ''solved it'' per se - nor do I believe there is a
solution, beyond not giving in and having her have to find her
own substitutes (probably her own hair once it becomes long enough).
I suffer from trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling) myself
and I believe my daughter has inherited the disorder. She pulls
my hair rather than her own because it's available to her and, as
she puts it, ''it hurts to pull my hair''. She always does it
before she goes to sleep, and I thinks she needs to do it to
relax. She'll also do it when she starts to wake up at night,
even before her little eyes open her little hand is searching all
over the bed for my hair. If she finds it, she goes back to
sleep, if she doesn't find it or a good substitute, she wakes up.
Supposedly baby trich goes away by the time kids are 5-7 years
old. I hope that will be the case and I have noticed her needing
it less than she used to but she still does need it.
What I would recommend to you, if you can't stand the pulling, is
to look for a substitute for her. A toy or a blanket won't do,
it has to be something that resembles human hair. Perhaps a doll
with a full set of hair would work. A very hairy sweater or
scarf, perhaps. For my daughter, the cat's tail will do when I'm
not around. But I'd be weary of cutting your hair short or not
providing it to her - I've thought about it myself, but my fear
is that if she doesn't pull my hair, she'll pull her own, and she
has much less to spare.
Hi--My son (22 mos) also has a ''hair fetish'' -- pretty much whenever I'm holding
him he wants to have a hank of my hair in his hand. I guess I'm taking the opposite
approach--whenever he asks ''Mama, hair?'' I take out my ponytail or whatever and
let him hold my hair for as long as he wants. It helps that he doesn't pull at all,
presses to his nose and mouth mainly. (this is kind of gross when he has a runny
nose I admit). My feeling is that he'll grow out of this eventually and being strict
about it will serve no purpose. (And cutting your hair might not help either--my
son likes to touch my husband's hair for comfort also and it's pretty short). My
mom says I did the same thing when I was my son's age so it seems like it's not that
unusual. I'd only try to stop your child when he's actually pulling too hard--
otherwise, chalk it up to self-soothing.
My 17 month old son is a big hair puller and I am looking for
suggestions to get him to stop. We repeat ''ouch - hair pulling
is not ok'' when he hurts us but if he is in a playful mood and
someones head is near by he goes for the yank. I think he
thinks it is fun. I bet that part of the problem is that when
tired he will crawl into our laps, suck his thumb and gently
play with our hair. It is so sweet! I am sure this is a phase
that will eventually work itself out but for the sake of our 3
year old daughter's scalp - anyone have any magic bullets to
while I don't believe in any kind of corporal punishment, I've
found that pulling my baby's hair in return has worked wonders.
before all you parents out there write me horrified emails, let
me just explain that I look in his eyes lovingly, give him a big
smile, and say ''hair pulling doesn't feel so good'' while shaking
my head no. then I gently take a large clump of hair and pull
very slowly and gradually till the tension seems strong enough
to be mildly uncomfortable but not enough to hurt. he actually
gets an ''aha!'' look in his eyes as he figures it out. I've done
this 3 times after which he stopped completely. if you're
willing to try it, I think you'll find it works.
finally have all my hair
A friend of ours with a 2 year old is struggling with her child's fondness
of pulling on other children's hair. Time outs and other forms of
discipline do not seem to deter his actions. Has anyone experienced
similar problems with their own children and how did you fix the
It's possible that he may be suffering from trichotillomania, the
hair pulling disease. Tric sufferers generally pull their own
hair, but my own 2-year-old who has it pulls mine instead (I
think this is because her own hair was so short when she started
that she couldn't get the release from pulling it she could get
from pulling mine). In her case, she does it when she's very
tired and going to sleep, but other tric sufferers have other
things that trigger their need to pull hair. Does this kid pull
other's hair once or twice hard (perhaps looking for a reaction,
testing limits, etc.) or does it seem like his hands wander
almost unconsciously towards other's hair? Do his hands seek
hair even shen he's asleep? If the latter, it may be tric.
I have a 13 month old who loves to grab a handful of my hair and
yank really hard; especially the bangs or the little wispy hairs at
the back. He doesn't do it from aggression or frustration
don't think it's a comforting technique for him, he thinks it's a
game, and he has a great time doing it. I've tried everything I
can think of, starting with screaming ''OUCH!'' I grab his little
hand and say ''No Hair Pulling! You're hurting me! Mommy
doesn't like it when you pull her hair!'' But he just finds that
more amusing, laughs and goes in for another tug. I can usually
get him distracted by something else but many a tender moment
has been ruined by him getting that mischevious look in his
eyes, reaching up for a handful, and YANK. Any suggestions?
This is very typical of babies this age. I think often they are doing it just
to see what happens. My son was big on pulling my husband's hair
when he was about a year old (my husband's hair is long, mine is short).
He pulled mine too, but not as often.
Because babies this age don't understand that other people have
feelings, telling them ''You're hurting Mommy'' doesn't mean anything to
them; and yelling is a big, dramatic reaction, one that they will often try to
provoke -- because it's interesting to them.
What we did that was most effective, was to say in a very calm, flat voice
''No hair pulling'' and then put our son down or turn away from him (only
for about 30 seconds). He pretty quickly figured out that this reaction
wasn't fun or interesting, and the hair pulling tapered off in a month or
two. Also, I think they just grow out of it.
The first thing I would do is stop reacting to it. You're right
about him thinking it's a game. And every time you give him a
loud OUCH you're taking part in it. So stop giving him a big
reaction that he might enjoy and want to see repeated. That's
pretty much all I've got. Good luck!
Put him down, turn your back, and walk away when he pulls your
hair. He clearly enjoys your negative reaction (ouch, yell, etc.)
so deprive him entirely of your attention instead.
This worked for similar behaviors for my son--nipped it right in
the bud. Ostracism seems cruel, but you don't have to show any
angry feelings or deliberately cruel intent. Just say, ''No, I
don't like that'' and walk away.
Boy, can I relate! My 15 month old use to love pulling my hair,
but more than that, the reaction I gave her (very similar to
yours). My advice is this, ignore it as much as you can and if
your hair is long enough wear it back! My hair is super long and
I usually wear it in braids. I've found she isn't so interested
in it anymore. Though yesterday she was pulling my earrings!
I've found ignoring certain behavior helps to make them go away.
this page was last updated: Feb 8, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network