Hair Pulling - The Play Doctors

Identify why the child is pulling hair
Could it be:
 Attention seeking

 Seeking sensory input i.e. feel or smell of

 Frustration

 Learnt behaviour

 Difficulty with meeting new/unfamiliar


Strategies and Responses
Be aware that pulling hair gets results – it is something that will get an
immediate reaction and if that is what the child wants it will work!


 Respond quickly and interrupt the behaviour, untangle the hair from the child’s
hand (your own or other hair) speak in a firm voice and tell the child it is not
acceptable to pull hair and that is hurts.

 Consider the consequences for pulling hair and make them meaningful to the
child. If, for instance, you are sending the child in to ‘time out’ then ensure
they know what they did that was wrong by showing them a picture such as
the one above and explaining pulling hair hurts.

 Be consistent with your approach and do not let the child get away with it.
 Never pull the child’s hair back – all you are doing is modelling the very
behaviour you want to stop and you are giving permission for the child to pull
others hair.

 If the reasons behind the behaviour are about sensory exploration, provide
safe sensory opportunities i.e. fabrics of the same texture or smell
 Provide child with safe pulling exercises/games such as row, row, row your
boat or tug or war.

 Follow child’s behaviour management plan (if there is one).

 Identify when and where it happens, remove the child from these situations.

 Use distraction techniques.

 Praise good behaviour.

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18 Mar 2019

By Matthew Duester
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