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My 4 Year Old Daughter Is a Puller

My daughter started pulling her hair when she was 1 year old. She is now 4 and still pulling. I have taken her to a pediatrician at first and it was there that she was diagnosed. Afterwards we took her to a childrens phsyciatrist but she is still pulling from time to time. When she pulls she is normaly in a out-of-this-world state. She will either be watching tv or while she's sleeping. As you might well know, fighting and bribery doesnt work. I tried to set her some short time goals, but she will stop pulling for a month or two and then suddenly she will do it again. I just simply dont know how I am suppose to get through to a four year old child. Please help me!

FrustratedMom FrustratedMom 31-35, F 4 Responses Feb 19, 2009

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my mom feels the same way you do. its been years for me but im now open to talking about it with others. i stared pulling when i was 9 and some time after that my mom took me to talk to a psychologist. i just recently found out from my mom that the psychologist had me draw too pictures one of myself and one of my house. the one of myself had no arms and a black cloud over my head. the doctor said this was because i didnt want to pull. my house was my house with the sun shinning the doctor siad this was because i feel safe at home. maybe have her draw you some pictures. i no shes young but when i was younger i started to colored alot and that keep my mind off it and my hands busy so i wouldnt pull. coloring and just drawing on a blank sheet of paper is a good way to keep her hands busy and mind off of it. i hope that helps. good luck

I am very happy my story gave you some comfort. As an adult, I recognize what I'm doing is wrong but I cannot stop it. It's very hard. I think trying a swimming cap is a good idea. What you need is to try to alter the behavior...because just because she has a cap on doesn't mean the desire will go away. Even though she is only 4 I think its very imporant to keep the communication open. Be honest with her and support her. Tell her that other people do what she does too and they are all trying to find help so she doesnt feel so alone. She must recognize even at her young age that what she does isn't "normal" but try to make her understand that she is not alone. That was one of my biggest issues as a child, I really thought I was a freak. I was aware that was I was doing was completely strange. Educate her as she grows up about the disorder. And she is right, you pulling her from her head is different than when she pulls it. Maybe you should tell her that you are sorry about what you did and you are beginning to understand what she is going through. I think that would mean a lot to her. You have to be her rock through this and I know you can do this because I can tell how much you love her, its almost painful how much you care for her. Also, it may be possible that she is and always will be a puller; recognize this possibility and know that no matter what you will always love her. I would have loved to have had someone to talk to me about this disorder as a kid (age 13). Maybe I could have gotten help earlier and nipped it in the bud. I found this article written in 2005 from a University in South Africa (I don't know if it is near you) but maybe you could try to get in contact with some of the authors/professors and see if there is any help they can provide. I would think that in this rare case people would be anxious to do some research on your daughter. Maybe some therapy sessions or behavioral therapy. Don't give up. I'm sure there are people in South Africa who are knowlegable. <br />
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http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=546013<br />
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try to copy & paste that link and see if you can get in contact with any of those people. send them emails, call them, let them know how much you need help. <br />
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i just want to say one more thing. do not NOT care what anyone else thinks about how she looks. she is so young im worried that she will develop low self conficence bc of her bald spots. and if you are worried about other people, she will too because she will follow you. i wish you both the best of luck!

Thank you so much Autum, its good to know that there is someone out there that actualy cares. It's been very tough as I sometimes feel like a failure as a mother, knowing that there is nothing that I can do about it. I have tried gloves, but I think that she's a master manipulater and always finds a reason or a way to take them off. My next step will probably be a swimming cap! I watched a program on Reality the other day all about OCD cases. One of these cases was a girl with Tric. And they had a docter on the program that was busy with experiments in Utah, on mice with genetic disorders that was also pulling their hair out. <br />
I would love some advice, my only problem is that I live in South-Africa and USA's specialist are a bit far.

I have done a lot of research over the years and almost every source says that Trichotillomania usually begins during the teenage years (That is when it began for me). Not to say that it can't happen to a 1 year old but I believe it is very rare. I'm surprised that nothing positive came out of the meeting with the psychiatrist (although I have realized there are a lof of clueless mental professionals out there). I would try to find a child psychiatrist/therapist who specializes in these types of disorders (impulse control disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, preferably trichotillomania if possible). You may want to try having her wear gloves while watching TV/sleeping - although this does not work for many people. I want you to know that you have my sympathies; I can't imagine how difficult this must be. Also, try to remember that your daughter has absolutely no control of this tic. It's like telling someone who bites their nails to stop - its almost impossible without some kind of help. Good luck and let me know if you need some help finding a good specialist!