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marauder76's avatar

How worried should I be about my toddler pulling her hair out?

Asked by marauder76 (390points) May 10th, 2009

She’s a 16 month old girl. She does a lot of tugging and twisting on her hair, especially at the end of the day when she is tired. Sometimes her fingers get twisted up in a strand or two and she yanks them out. We try to gently distract her or remove her hand, but she is persistant. This has been going on for a good few weeks. Otherwise, she’s a happy, healthy, delightful little girl. How worried should we be?

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24 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

What is the option that you could cut her hair fairly short?

knitfroggy's avatar

Does she do this when she is angry or just as a habit, do you think? I have a bad habit of twirling my hair when it’s long enough right now it’s like Jamie Lee Curtis in the poopin’ yogurt commercial so I can’t. It’s just a habit for me. If you’re too worried about it, I would talk to the pediatrician.

augustlan's avatar

If we’re just talking about accidentally pulling out a few strands of hair per day, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. Now, if she’s pulling it out on purpose or yanking out hunks of hair… that’s another story. I’d look into either of those scenarios with the pediatrician.

marauder76's avatar

To answer the questions so far, it’s not something she does when she’s angry, but when she’s tired. Sometimes at the end of the day she is cranky and frustrated, but that’s part of being tired in my book. And it’s not hunks of hair, but yesterday I did see approximately 4–5 strands come out, which was distressing. In terms of cutting her hair short, it is already shorter than average for a girl her age, and I don’t think we could really cut it shorter because we want her to look like a girl.

knitfroggy's avatar

Sounds like it’s just a habit to me. I would be more worried if she were having a temper tantrum and ripping her hair out. If she’s losing 4 strands, that’s no biggie, you’re pulling out more than that every time you brush her hair. I would just bring it up to the doctor next time she has a check up and see what he has to say about it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Mayby a head scarf when she gets tired.

skfinkel's avatar

I read the links of @RedPowerLady and found the second one to be right on target. From what you describe, it sounds like she does this hair twisting/pulling when she is tired. I wouldn’t worry about it. It will disappear, especially if you can just resist focusing on it. For her right now it is comforting. The only thing I might try is getting her to bed before she is overly tired, reading to her while she is still somewhat alert, and then letting her go to sleep directly. But really, this sounds like the first of many little behaviors a healthy child might do that you have to ignore.

cheebdragon's avatar

My son use to do the same thing, it’s just a way for them to comfort themselves.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I would keep an eye on it; if it becomes too habitual, it could turn into trichotillomania, an anxiety disorder in which one pulls out hair, eyelashes, and/or eyebrows.

casheroo's avatar

I highly doubt that will turn into trichotillomania. Some children suck on pacis, and some tug on their hair. It’s possible that she just discovered her hair…my son did that with his ears, and I thought he had an ear infection..took him to the Pediatrician and they aid his ears were fine, that babies just like to mess with body parts.
I’m sure you have a well baby check up at 18 months, I’d ask the pediatrician about it then. It’s not a pressing issue.

hearkat's avatar

A colleague of mine is dealing with trichtotillomania in her 4-year-old. I don’t see her often enough to offer advice; but I wanted you to know that the ‘habit’ could develop into a bigger problem should issues of stress or anxiety arise.

casheroo's avatar

I have trichotillomania, I’ve heard of it in children and yes it can happen that young, but people are being alarmist and telling you the worst case scenario. Call your pediatrician.
Go to where people deal with this and their toddlers, you’ll find better support from actual parents of toddlers.

jca's avatar

my sister used to do this when she was a toddler, lying with her bottle falling asleep. she used to twirl her hair with her finger. she is now 23 and has not done this as a child nor as an adult. i would say if you’re anxious about it you’ll pass on the anxiety to the baby, so don’t worry about it too much, check the internet and ask the pediatrician to make yourself feel better.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

shave her head… come on… it’ll be funny….

maybe_KB's avatar

Call for an Exorcism

filmfann's avatar

@knitfroggy poopin’ yogurt? Ewwwww

knitfroggy's avatar

@filmfann you know..that yogurt that makes you poop? I dunno what it’s called, I hate yogurt!

hearkat's avatar

@knitfroggy: Activia or something like that

knitfroggy's avatar

@hearkat Yes, I think that’s it.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Did you ever find a solution to this?

marauder76's avatar

I followed the advice from your links and from other responses… generally just try to distract her from it w/o making too big a deal about it. She’s been pulling her hair a bit less over the last few weeks since I posted the original question, so hopefully that means she’s just outgrowing the behavior. Thanks for your help!

augustlan's avatar

@marauder76 Glad to hear it! Thanks for the update.

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