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2 1/2 Year Old Pulling Hair Out

My 2 1/2 years old daughter is pulling her hair out. She does this at bedtime and at school during the day. Last night I braided her hair to prevent this but when she woke up she had upbraided her hair and I found a hair ball (small bunch of hair). She just twist the hair until its a little ball then pulls it out. She does the same it I put it up in ponytails. She will take her hair down. If I leave it down she does the same thing. Any suggestions on how to stop this behavior. I was thinking of cutting all of her hair very short so she could not pull at it and hopefully by the time it grows back the habit will have faded. But I really don't want to do that.

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I have no idea, but I would definately talk to her pediatrician about this. Also pay attention to any other changes in behavior that you can tell the doc about.

1 mom found this helpful

My sister did the very same thing when she was little. My mother cut her hair very short and got her ears pierced. Like others have said, she had outgrown the habit by the time her hair was growing again. Best wishes!!!!

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I have no idea, but I would definately talk to her pediatrician about this. Also pay attention to any other changes in behavior that you can tell the doc about.

1 mom found this helpful

Your child probably has the medical condition called "trichotillomania". You can find an explanation on "kidshealth.org". I had a childhood acquaintance who had this condition from a young age who repeatedly pulled out her eyelashes. There was no medical explanation back then, luckily there is now. Good luck. P. E.

My 4-year-old twirls her hair into horrendous knots. The hair on the right side of her hair is thinner and shorter (which you can see visibly when I try to put it in pigtails, but is less obvious when it's down or in a ponytail). She doesn't intentionally pull it out, but a lot of it comes out as I painstakingly comb out the knots.
Does your daughter suck her thumb or use a paci? Mine still sucks her thumb, and I've heard from at least one other person that when her daughter stopped sucking her thumb, she also quit twirling her hair. I'm hoping, but it's also been a struggle to get her to stop sucking her thumb. (We're about to resort to a thumb guard, I think.)
I'm also wondering about your daughter's personality. Out of my 3 kids, my 4-year-old is the most insecure (she's the middle one, though she was like this even before the baby came along!) and seems the most anxious about things in general (getting into trouble, getting answers right, people fighting, etc.), so I keep tending to think that sucking and twirling are really her ways of dealing with her anxiety, but I still don't know what to do about it otherwise.
I'm sorry I don't have much advice to offer you in dealing with the hair-pulling, but perhaps it helps to know that you are not alone in dealing with such hair issues. It might seem like a rather insignificant thing to others, but I know how worried and frustrated I get watching my daughter doing this to her hair (not to mention trying to comb out the knots!).

Dear Nicole,

My daughter did something very similar......from about 1-3 years old, she twisted her hair at night to comfort herself to go to sleep. She would twist and turn the hair around her finger till she couldn't do it anymore. The result was that her hand would be tangled in her hair, and when I would sneak in to unravel it, there would be tufts of hair everywhere. Eventually, she wore a bald spot on the right side of her head. We finally cut her hair short and gave her a cuddly doll with yarn hair as her sleeping pal. Somehow it worked.

My sister did the very same thing when she was little. My mother cut her hair very short and got her ears pierced. Like others have said, she had outgrown the habit by the time her hair was growing again. Best wishes!!!!

I've heard about a condition that sounds something similar to this; try researching and asking her pediatrician about Trichotillomania, or the "Hair-Pulling Habit." I think it's like a nervous tic. Therapists are paying more attention to this sort of thing these days; maybe your ped can recommend something that will help.

My sons best friend did the same thing around age three. He would pull out a couple of hairs and chew on them. Kind of a nervous habit. His mom finally shaved it real short. It worked. When it grew out he must of forgotten because he does not do it anymore. Good luck.

Hi N.,
You may want to try a Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil called, Peace and Calming. I have had great results with this oil. If you would like to try it contact me and I'll explain how you can get it.

I did this also when I was 2 (55 years ago) and would
put hair in my mouth. They shaved my head and when it
grew back, I was out of the habit. May sound drastic,
but hair grows pretty fast. I was not a nervous
child, in fact, I was just the opposite and I had a very
normal and happy 1950's upbringing with 2 parents and 4 siblings. I was 4th born and the only child in my family that did this. I've got a great head of hair today.
I have a one year old grandson that has a mild case of it
but wonder if it will grow worse as he gets older.

My daughter did this for a few years. She doesn't do it very much anymore, an occasional twist but doesn't pull it out. It got to the point that her hair was really thin on one side of her head. We did eventually cut it shorter. Wearing mittens or gloves might help. I would also tell her every night hold your bear don't twist your hair. Good luck. I think she will grow out of it.

It sounds like it could be a nervous disorder called trichitillimania. This is where you pull your hair out. It varies in severity from just pulling on the hair to pulling it out and actually eating it. My mother has it and has ever since she was a teenager, but I know a child with it also. I would suggest getting her some professional help to get a diagnosis. There are some treatments. I don't know if the fact that she is so young would help or not. Hope this helps.

My little cousin, Sierra, started pulling her hair out at night when she was about 7. My aunt tried the braid thing, and tried cutting Sierra's hair short, but neither worked. My aunt would put socks over her hands and tape them on to try to stop the pulling...it didn't work. She eventually took Sierra to her pediatrician, where Sierra was diagnosed with Trichotillomania. Sierra is now 17 and still pulls. She is completely bald most of the time, and occasionally wears a wig. I hope that your daughter doesn't have Trich (as it is most commonly known), but I would highly recommend a trip to the doctor to find out. Here's a link to a website that can give you more info:


Hope this helps. I'd be more than happy to talk to you about trich if that is what she has.

I know you've already gotten several responses but thought I'd tell you what worked for my friend. Her daughter did this when she was just little - and she ate the hair. My friend cut her hair really short (almost like a buzz cut) b/c she had pulled so much of it out. With it being that short, she couldn't grab hold of it anymore. She is now 6 and doesn't do it much - but during times of stress, I think she still does. My biggest recommendation is to take her to a doctor first to see if there is a medical condition - if not, and you know she is a "stressed out" little girl, maybe seeing a psychologist will help. Above all else, turn it over to God and pray for her! Good luck - I know this is something that would make me want to pull my own hair out!

Hi N.,

It does sound like your daughter may have Trichotillomania and/or an anxiety issue. Some children chew their fingernails to the quick and it comes from the same place of stress. It doesn't have to mean your home/environment is super stressful either. Some children's natures are just more sensitive and handle perceived stressors with nervous tics and habits like these.

I can whole heartedly recommend homeopathy for treatment for what your daughter is going through. Homeopathic medicine is beyond safe for children and infants and treats nervous conditions just as much as acute colds and such. It has been very successful in clearing anxiety problems and it is a non-toxic and non-drug therapy.

I would recommend Nanette Pavlova, a licensed homeopath who works with Birthwise in Austin. She treated a child I nannied for who had an eating disorder at the age of 17 months! The doctors DX'd her with "failure to thrive". This poor baby had been taken to every doctor and specialist possible to no avail, and I convinced her mother to take her to Nanette.

Within just a few days of being given the right remedy- she was eating better and sleeping better. Her disposition improved greatly, going from a very rigid and angry little girl to a smiling and giggling child. Her personality was being distorted by her digestive issues, and so was her nervous system.

Her motor skills were far behind as well, and after dosing her, she showed interest in walking and moving about, whereas before she made her mother carry her everywhere.

Homeopathy addresses all parts of a child, not just the symptoms and is very successful treatment for children. Plus, the pellets taste sweet and I have yet to see a child fight a dose. Even in liquid form, children take the remedies very easily.

Take care-

First and foremost, I want to say that I am sorry for what you are having to go through right now. It is very frustrating for you, your husband, and your daughter. I know...I have been where your daughter is. However, when I was her age no one knew of this disorder. Trichotillomania (trick-o-till-o-mania)is more common than what it used to be. There is help and there are things that can be done to help your daughter. It is good that you are catching this at such an early age and hopefully you can get the help that you all need before the problem persists too much longer. Here are two websites that may help you understand more.



Again, having gone through this myself, if you have any questions please feel free to ask me. Oh, and by the way, after I was finally diagnosed at age 11, I was Trich free by age 12. Best of luck and God bless!

I have a niece that did that when she was little and it was nerves and all the chaos around her with her parents and we had to cut her hair short and she just grew out of it and they got divorced. i ended up cutting my nieces hair very very short and left a little on top.

Hello :)

My niece did this when she was about the same age as your daughter. One thing that my sister did to try to help the pulling was to get her a baby doll that had hair. When she wanted to pull, she'd pull the doll's hair out instead of her own. She carried the doll everywhere. Believe it or not, it worked for her. She is now a beautiful 8 yo with gorgeous, thick blonde hair :) She doesn't pull anymore either. As far as when she is asleep, the gloves may work, or maybe put a bandanna or stocking cap over her hair...

There is a medical condition that causes it - you might want to talk to your pediatrician about it. It's called Trichotillomania. If you go to www.kidshealth.org, you can search it, and it will give you some information.

I wish you the best :) Feel free to contact me if you'd like.

Hi, i don't have this problem with my own children, but my younger cousin, he is now 8yrs old and when he was 4 he started to do the same thing. He always had such "wild" hair and when he was young my aunt always had to get him a "buzz" cut to make it easier to handle. But when he was almost 4 she wanted to let it grow out a little and that was when he started to do the hair pulling thing. He eventually started to do other things like pull out carpet threads or rugs threads~just something you can look out for too. Anyways, eventually he was diagnosed with having ASBERGER'S DISORDER. I think i spelled that right! Its like a compulsive disorder with a few other things. IM NOT SAYING THAT ITS WHAT YOUR DAUGHTER HAS....PLEASE DON'T THINK THAT!! I am only giving you info on what our family has gone through with the pulling out hair thing. Just keep an eye on it, and cutting her hair might help some, but do check with the dr to make sure there isn't any other ideas they might have to help distract her from doing this!
Hope i helped some!! GOOD LUCK!
T. R

I know this is frustrating and may not be a phase she is going thru at this age. This could possibly an anexity or emotional issue she is going thru and may need professional advise. I would not leave it to take care of itself.

God bless you.

I would take her to the pediatrician. This sounds like an actual medical issue. I don't know the name of it, but there is a nervous disorder that causes one to pull their hair out, even during sleep. I had a friend in high school who had it. During the day, she could control it, but when she was asleep, she would pull her hair out, even her eyebrows and eyelashes. There is treatment. Talk to your doctor.

It is just a phase, and is usually brought on by stress or anxiety. The only thing that you can do is pull her hair back and remind her to leave it alone. This too shall pass mom! Cutting her hair will not work.

I only know this as an anxiety issue. Examine what might be causing her stress. Please consider getting her professional help. No scolding or cutting her hair. She is having difficulty coping or not being able to verbalize or understand what is troubling her. Consider taking he to a Dr. of Naturopathy--no drugs--only herbs/vitamins. Blessings to you and her.

I would first talk to your doctor about it. It is possible she just has some anxiety that you may not be aware of. My son has anxiety issues and Sensory Processing Disorder but he chews things (like his shirt). We give him more appropriate things to chew (like a chew straw from an Occupational Therapist, gum, laughy taffy, etc). When we give him these things, it has a calming effect and really helps. Looks like you have received some good suggestions. I did run across this site which might be worth a read. http://www.trich.org/teens_kids/. Good luck.

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