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Tips for parents:

 

Try to educate yourself on Trichotillomania- I’d suggest joining an online support group where you can talk to other sufferers.

 

Try to remember that for the large part this is your child’s battle not yours. You can’t fight this for them or force them to get treatment, you can only provide support.

 

Try to give advice at suitable times, not in a nagging manner, but to show they aren’t alone with this.

 

Try not to give useless advice such as ‘just stop’ or ‘it’s just a matter of willpower, just try not to’. It is not helpful and is, most of the time, not possible. It will simply show a lack of compassion and understanding when it comes to their struggle.

 

Try not to become fixated on the hair or hair loss- your child is not their hair and nor does their hair belong to you. 

 

Most importantly try not to pressure your child into not pulling, don’t make them feel bad or guilty for pulling. They will feel they have disappointed you and it will encourage them to lie about how much they have pulled. It could seriously affect their self-esteem and will likely have the opposite effect, causing them to pull more due to increased anxiety.

Tips for sufferers:

 

Try to surf the urge- this is where you acknowledge the strength of the urge but try to wait a specific period of time before judging the strength of the urge again, repeat this until the urge passes. For example ‘This is a strong urge, I’ll try to resist it for four minutes’, ‘now how strong is it? Can I wait five minutes more?’etc.

 

Try to keep a diary of when, where and how much you pull. Obviously this is easier said than done if you pull without knowing, but it is a useful way to identify triggers and improvement.

 

Try not to let it influence your life by letting it prevent you from enjoying yourself. Swimming and such can be scary if you have a bald patch to hide but you can help your confidence in these situations by wearing a barrier such as a headscarf, hat or swimming hat.

 

Try not to keep it to yourself, tell at least a family member and a close friend.

Unhelpful things to say

 

  • It’s such a shame; your hair was so pretty before.
  • Just choose to stop; it's a simple matter of willpower.
  • You’re getting thin on top again.
  • You're not even trying to stop!
  • Nobody wants a bald girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • Doesn't it hurt? Can I try?
  • Just stop!
  • That’s really weird.
  • You’re going to go bald!
  • You know someday the hair just won't grow back.
  • You're just doing this for attention
  • Just stop fiddling with your hair!

Helpful things to say

 

  • I noticed there was a lot of hair around, you ok?
  • Can I help you try to stop?
  • Would you like me to tell you if I see you pulling?