Hair Pulling as a Self Soothing Mechanism

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Alright, who knew that pulling out your own hair was actually soothing?  About 3 months ago my 18 month old daughter started tugging at her hair on her right side.  At first it was fairly infrequently and I noticed that she did it predominantly when she was tired.  I figured it would pass and it didn’t look as though it was doing much harm. 

Skip to present day and it is still going on.  My pediatrician says that she is using it as a self soothing mechanism and that it will pass.  Her advice is that if I keep asking my daughter to stop and she appears to be continuing to do it more often because I say no then to just ignore the habit and it will eventually stop.   I don’t get the sense that she’s doing it because I ask her not to, it is really only when she is tired.  So at this point I’m stuck with just calmly asking her not to pull her hair when I see her do it.

But I have to say, while I can appreciate that to my daughter it is a comforting habit, for me it is disturbing for a number of reasons.  For starters, it looks like it hurts.  Secondly the little hairs can get wrapped around her thumb and because she sucks her thumb she ends up swallowing a lot of her hair.  Nothing I will worry about, because she’s happy so I’m not going to stress her out about it if its not necessary.   The other challenge is trying to even out her hair so there isn’t such an obvious line down the back of her head where one side is short and the other is long.  But honestly, she’s a happy healthy little girl so I’ll just be thankful that this is the only thing that worries me about her. 

As my pediatrician said at the end of our conversation …”This too shall pass.”  A quote that is applicable, it seems, to all things toddler. 

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