Disciplining Angry Two-Year-Old Who Pulls Hair

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When toddlers throw temper tantrums, they are expressing emotions they are feeling but can not express in the only way that they know how to. As such, as the frustration or anger grows, the magnitude of the tantrum does as well. And if parents are not responding to the outburst in a way that toddlers believe is appropriate, they may escalate the issue. So much so that they will pull hair. Leaving parents wondering how to discipline a two-year-old who pulls hair when angry.

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Two-year-olds lack emotional maturity and many times, the vocabulary, to express how they feel when emotions grow large. As such, many result to physicality because their bodies feel like they are going to explode. While this is not the correct way to handle feelings, toddlers need to be taught the right way to express themselves so that the next time large emotions are present, they know better how to handle them.


RELATED: Hair Pulling, Pinching & Biting: Decoding Your Baby’s Behavior

Here is how to discipline a two-year-old who pulls your hair when angry.

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Why Two-Year-Old Pulls Hair When Angry

Angry toddlers likely do not know how to express their large feelings in an emotionally healthy way. Because of this, physicality will win out, especially if they have not been taught how to behave differently.

According to RaisingChildren.net.au, when two-year-olds pull hair when they are angry, there are a few reasons why they do it. Those reasons include:

  • Not having words to express how they feel
  • Wanting to get parents’ attention
  • Have seen other kids do it
  • Have participated in doing it when fighting with other children

It is not the correct way to handle feelings, but it does need to be corrected. It is not something that is internally known but needs to be taught it is not right to pull hair. And this is why if toddlers resort to hair pulling when angry, it needs to be nipped in the bud immediately.

Do Not Give A Reaction

According to Janet Lansbury, the first few times that toddlers pull hair, it is an impulse they give into. But it is when they see that they get a reaction from doing so that they decide to continue doing it. And that is why not giving a reaction to pulling hair is so important to stopping the behavior.

Depending on how hard two-year-olds pull hair, it may really hurt. But, if parents can dig deep and just walk away when it happens, toddlers may see that getting attention when angry in this manner gets no attention at all. And when there is no reaction, there is no reason to continue to pull hair.

Stop Behavior As Soon As It Starts

If the lack of reaction does not work, then parents need to firmly state that hair pulling hurts and that it needs to end.

Stopping the behavior mid-hair pull may be firmly grabbing the hand that has the hair, looking directly at two-year-olds and saying, “Ouch!” loudly. If that does not get their attention, saying that it hurts when hair is pulled may be another tactic. But, that hand grabbing hair needs to be removed immediately before toddlers get the idea that the behavior will be accepted.

Discuss Why Hair Pulling Is Not Done

According to BabyCentreit is important, regardless of the age of the toddler, to discuss why hair pulling simply is not done.

Parents can ask their children why it is wrong to pull hair, per the publication as well as follow up with an answer so that two-year-olds know why the behavior is wrong. They can also read books on the subject.

But perhaps the most impactful way to explain to toddlers why they can’t pull hair, according to BabyCentre is to say that it makes parents “sad.” This will get two-year-olds’ attention and perhaps stop the behavior from happening much longer.

Do Not Pull Back

If the hair pulling is done often, there may be the impulse to pull two-year-olds’ hair so they see how it feels. Unfortunately, this will not help the situation but exacerbate it instead. As such, parents need to continue to work with their toddlers until the desire to pull hair no longer exists. And while it can take some time to happen, eventually it does and there are no further thoughts on the part of two-year-olds to want to pull hair.

Source: RaisingChildren.net.au, Janet Lansbury, BabyCentre

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