Posted by: Jenny | 2008-11-02

Daughter pulls her hair

Hi Doc thanks dor your time.
I have a questions regarding my 15year old daughter who has developed a bad habit of either pulling her hair out or " snaps"  the ends. She does this only when on the trampoline or deep in thought. I have bribed, threatened, pleaded, have had chats about if anything is worrying her and always the same response - its just a habit or as she calls it " the zone" . I have noticed she has started biting her nails lately as well. I know that exams are coming up but she does well in school. She is extremely artistic and is constantly drawing or writing poetry/songs or short stories. How do I get through to her that she must stop this (especially hair pulling) as it could get worse and totally out of hand. I have not made a big deal about it (yet) as I don' t want to make her feel self consious (sp) about her appearance as I sometimes think that teenagers have enough to deal with. I have bought lots of hair products that protect and recondition etc but somehow I think that this is a much deeper problem than just hair! Please advise me on what to do.... many thanks

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Our expert says:
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These sorts of habits are quite common when someone is concentrating or reading, though I confess I've never come across anyone with such talen for twiddling their hair while on the trampoline ! It is a bad habit, and by "the zone" she probably means it relates to a level of relaxation / spacing out / withdrawal she experiences and probably enjoys. Doing well in school may of course not mean that one DOESN'T worry about exams --- one may do so all the more, because one expects all the more of oneself.
Naging her about the hair pulling probably only exaggerates it ; even ignoring it may achieve more ! SHe will probably at some time relatively soon come to think more about her appearance in the eyes of boys, and worry that doing this makes her look bad, and she will want to stop it. If you feel she may have something sigiifncant worrying her, why not offer her some sessions with a friendsly local psychologist, to enable her to talk things over and get some neutral advice ?

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