Remember, she has not yet developed empathy or an understanding of her own strength. She does not know that it might hurt. She is still developing an awareness of her own body, making it especially difficult to be aware of others’ bodies. Also, keep in mind that many young children don’t have much or any hair of their own yet, making others’ hair especially interesting.
Hair is soft and smooth- a sensory experience to touch. A child who pulls hair may need to stroke a silky blanket or squeeze a stuffed animal for sensory stimulation instead. Hair-pulling is also an experiment in cause-and-effect. Every time I pull someone’s hair, something happens, how exciting!
The child who pulls hair may not have an understanding of a rule or limit about how hair should be touched. Mommy or Daddy or a sibling may allow hair-pulling. We need to model how to touch hair gently and allow the child to feel her head or hair being touched in a gentle way.