9 yr old Daughter pulls out her eyebrows....moved on to her head....HELP!!!

Julie - posted on 03/25/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Hello, I'm new to this site and this is my first post. My daughter began pulling out her eyebrows when she was 8. It has been 1 year and 3 mos now and she only stopped once during summer vacation prior to being a flower girl in a wedding. Not sure if it was a relaxing summer or the wedding that helped her stop but after the wedding last November, she started up again and has next to no eyebrows left. One day she pulled some lashes at school but thankfully that was a one-time deal. Last week she began playing with the hair on her head, pulling a small section out of her ponytail and then yanking a strand or two out of her head at a time. I'm terrified she's going to end up bald, disfigured, ridiculed, laughed at and generally scarred for life. She's such a beautiful girl inside and out, I just don't want to see her self-esteem go down the toilet. It will ruin her life. She has seen 3 therapists and the current one seems to be actually attempting to provide her with some relaxation tools. The puzzling thing is that she has a pretty kick back life. Hardly any stress. I'm a single mom and I'm not working but able to pay bills so no prob there. I have enough money for nice clothes, activities, experiences, I pick her up and drop her off at school just like the SAHM's. She gets playdates and doesn't really have a whole lot of responsibilty aside from the basics of home and self care plus her homework. Her dad and I separated 9 months before the pulling started and I have to say I do an awesome job at giving her a 5 star life. We live in the same house we always did. NOTHING has changed, no trauma, just her dad moving out. He was always pretty uninvolved with her - so it wasn't a huge loss. As for me, I'm easy going except when she dawdles and stalls getting ready to go places and then we're late which makes me have to rush her along. But other than tha,t I bend over completely backwards to be helpful, accommodating, supportive, and guide her through life the best way I know how. I try hard so hard to always be thoughtful and caring when dealing with her. I have beaten myself up over this and now I'm to the point where I have to just let it go and hope that she is able to stop somehow. I don't know what else to do. I've given her mittens, squishy toys, read books for parents and kids about trich, we just started going to a monthly support group for kids with trich, she grooms therapy horses, takes ballet, does lots of art, plays A LOT, eats only organic foods, and gets plenty of sleep. She seems happy and has a few friends, not many, and some kids think she's wierd and she is a little quirky but in a good way. She wants her eyebrows back but says she can't stop. I need some more ideas to help her and myself cope with the feelings of fear and anxiety about how this behavior can affect relationships and self-esteem. I'm so confused by this terrible disorder and I just can't understand why she's doing it. Can anyone help me???

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Tara - posted on 03/26/2011

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It sounds like she may have trichotillomania (it sounds from your post you have had the diagnosis made, but here is a link to more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichotillo...). It is on the OCD spectrum so having her in therapy is a really good idea. Even though she seems to be handling your separation from her dad well, she may feel that it is her fault in some way (obviously it isn't but a lot of kids feel like that when their parents separate - I know I did, and my parents didn't separate until I was almost 19, so I imagine in a younger child it would be worse).
The good news is that since you've noticed it while she's young, the chances of her outgrowing it with therapy are really, really good.
The only other thing I can think of besides therapy is making it really clear to her that your separation had nothing to do with her and just keep reinforcing that and trying to stay positive. Has her therapist indicated she has any kind of signs of depression at all? That is something I would look into as well because if you have made her life as stress-free as you can and are continuing with therapy and she still isn't improving then she may be somewhat depressed and there are areas of therapy that can be followed to help with that as well.

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Louise - posted on 03/26/2011

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It sounds like she has created this as a comfort thing for her. This is going to be really hard to break if you have tried the doctors and councilling. I think the only other thing left is to shock her into stopping. Look up the technical name for this disorder on the internet and show her the pictures of woman with patchy hair and baldness and tell her if she continues to do this the hair will just stop growing back. I expect she does this whilst watching telly or day dreaming not really realising she is doing it. Maybe take up a hobby that you can do infront of the tv like quilt making or knitting that keeps her hands busy and is relaxing, it also gives her a product to be proud of. Youd could do this craft together. Other than this I really have no idea how to stop her doing this. I know it is quite common as there is a three year old in my daughters playgroup that does it, she does it so much she has a bald patch the size of a golf ball. I feel so sorry for the mum becuase there is so little you can do.

Carolyn - posted on 03/25/2011

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Look into congitive behavioural therapy. It can be a great tool.

relaxation techniques is a small part of it but there are tools your daughter should be old enough use , that can help her identify what kind of thoughts/feelings are triggering her desire to pull out her hair, which in turn help her begin to understand her behaviour and inturn , change it.

There is a alot of really usefull stuff in there, I did some training on it years ago so im a little fuzzy on the details but CBT is often used in compulsive disorders, anxiety disorders and host of others.

Its also really easy to put into practice and use. Most tools could be easily altered for the use of a child.

Lise - posted on 03/25/2011

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It sounds like your doing everything you can. It sounds like she has OCD and your getting her therapy so thats good. I can't really give any advise because your doing everything I would do. Just keep doing what your doing and good luck.

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