Support for parents

Hi all

Thanks in advance for any help, it will be very much appreciated. My daughter is 12 and has been pulling (head hair) for over a year. It started around the time of her SATS tests in year 6. We've been going to see a doctor for about 6 months at the specialised mental health unit at our local hospital plus a hyponotherapist. We've tried physical barriers (hair net gloves bangles that jingle fiddles) the dr has asked my daughter to write down when she has the urges and triggers however from our view she's not trying to help herself. We've been very supportive although at times I'm ashamed to admit I have got angry and there has been no support for us as parents. The Dr doesn't seem to know much more than us. We're in a situation now where she is pulling clumps out daily, she has many bald patches that are visible and a main worry is now if she will be returning to school after the holidays. My questions really are how can I help her to express how she feels, is there any support for parents and also I've heard that diet can hugely make a difference but the dr seemed very disinterested in this when mentioned.

Thank you


  • Hi Sarah,
    I'm sorry to see your post went unnoticed this long! I am a mother of 4 children, 17, 13, 13 and 7. I'm 41 and have been a lash/brow puller for 30+ years. I have times of pull freedom and times of relapse. I work at a school and just by word of mouth, I have talked with many parents about how to help their children with trichotillomania.

    That being said, I want to first congratulate you for coming here for help. Also, good job checking with the doctors. It makes me sad to hear that you got basically the same response from your doctors that my parents did 30 years ago!

    Coming here, where people already know what she's going through is such a better option than going to a doctor that really has no idea. I hate the thought of a doctor prescribing her antipsychotic drugs, anxiety meds, depression meds, when all of us (in my generation) can already vouch that those things didn't stop the pulling.

    The John Kender diet is the one that is known for reducing urges to pull. I personally find relief when avoiding the trigger foods. You can easily find info online, but mostly the "bad foods" are sugar, coffee, cola, peanut, chocolate, soy, egg yolks (because the chickens are fed with soy now) and for some, whole grains and dairy. Try taking processed foods and sugar out of her diet for a couple of weeks and see if she seems to have less severe symptoms. You'll want to wean her off of sugar if she is used to eating pastries and candy and soda, otherwise she'll get a massive headache. But, if she mostly already eats whole foods, you might just take out chocolate and peanut and see how that goes.

    For the most part, many doctors don't realize the effect diet can have on neurological disorders. They want to prescribe medicine. I know that's harsh, but it's been very hard for me to find any doctor that wants to help me naturally treat my disorder. I live in the US.

    You do want to help her find things to do with her hands, especially things that have textures like Velcro or spiky little balls, or even silly putty.

    Please consider therapy at this site if you are looking for treatment options. All of what I know, Neo taught me. And it takes practice. But it can be done. The sooner the better for your daughter, I wish almost daily that my parents had found something to help me when I was younger. I was 11 when I started too.

  • Hi Sarah. Sorry it's taken so long for you to get replies. The journal idea to look for triggers is a really useful tool that will help you to help your daughter, but she won't get better overnight whatever you do. The path to recovery will be filled with bumps and setbacks. And that's ok. That's normal. So is getting frustrated, but try to understand that your daughter has a condition that is compelling her to pull her hair out and that compulsion is very strong. She's not being naughty.

    Have a look at the parents section for tips and advice, and have a good read through the whole parents menu to get an idea of how things are from your daughter's perspective.

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