She just won’t stop! My daughter pulls out her hair

Your typical daughter-mother relationship can be strained at times, let alone a mother-daughter relationship where your child suffers from a disorder which is hard to  comprehend. From the get go a mother is used to telling their child to STOP when their child is doing something they should not be doing or they do not agree with. In some cases this does not alter as the child gets older.   I am 20 years old and my mum still just shouts ‘STOP IT’ if she sees me doing something she disproves of, on a good day I can handle this and other days I resent it.

In this article I will discuss my body repetitive focused behaviour of nail biting and how my mum deals with my habit and has dealt with my habit. I have bitten my nails for as long as I can remember and the thought of giving up to me seems highly unlikely. My mum has tried everything from dipping my fingers in mustard to making me sit on my hands whilst watching tv. Sometimes she will see me playing with my fingers whilst watching TV and then say ‘stop biting your nails’ then the thought is in my head when I wasn’t even biting them. I can assure you this technique only makes us think about our habit more and makes it harder to fight the urge.

We understand our parents only want the best for us and feel stressed when they feel one of their children or child is going through a traumatic time; but you stressing out only makes us stress out too which can cause our urges to become more severe. I have learnt the tone a parent takes with their child instigate how their child behaves especially with daughters and their mums. If my mum tells me to not do something, if I’m being honest I am more than likely to want to do the opposite.

At whatever age, we all seek praise and approval from parents. My parents are the first people I tell if I feel I have done something good or have got praise from someone else. This natural approval-seeking behaviour can be used positively for someone withTrichotillomania. Setting targets such as half an hour without pulling or an hour without pulling can help spur your child on to want to reach their next targets, also showing you have a keen interest in their progress. The tone taken is absolutely so important, no 20 year old wants to feel patronised and this goes for most ages. It’s a hard balance between an understanding tone and a calm tone which can make the difference. Giving your child the confidence to reach out to you and them to be able to feel they can open up on their bad days and tell you about their good days.

You can liken hairpulling to anything which makes you feel that you are not in control of your behaviour, such as eating that extra cake when you want to lose weight, to smoking or nail biting.  Try not to expect a human being to always behave according to their goals and thoughts, because behaviour isn’t always logical.

Most importantly all you can do is be there for them and not blame yourselves as it is not your fault, refer them on to an expert and trust the expert to help as much as they can.  At the same time ask lots of questions, and be prepared for the questions to hurt first and be useful later.  If you take up a hobby that you can do with your hands you set a good example without looking like a nag.

Rachel Harrison