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Please help! My son is twisting his hair out !

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
not sure if this is the right place to post this or not..

but my son who is 8 is twisting his hair and leaving bald spots and I think it is all my fault. He has done this since he was little and the only thing the doctors could come up with was to keep his hair short. He twist it so much he leaves bald spots I looked at his head tonight and right on the top side is a giant bald spot so out came the clippers

He has such beautiful blond hair I hate to see him rip it out. Things are always so high stress around here every single day! No matter how hard I try it just seems like I can't keep up with everything and then I get stressed,yell,vent cry...

I feel like if I left they would all be better off
post #2 of 13
My son does this, too. Actually he outgrew it in the past year. It started with him twirling MY hair for comfort and went in to twirling his own when I was pregnant with my daughter. The best answer I found was to keep his short. I would let him grow it out when he wanted to with the stipulation that he must not twirl to the point of bald spots. As soon as I would start to see bald spots I would announce that he would be getting a hair cut and explain to him WHY. He understood and usually by that point was ready for a cut. He hasn't twirled it to the point of baldness in about a year now. He actually just got a hair cut after growing it out really long. HTH!
post #3 of 13
Oh Momma, it's not your fault. And the kids need you, they most certainly would not be better off without you.

I think keeping his hair short is probably a good place to start.

You may want to try googling Trichotillomania. There have also been other threads about this here at MDC too.

Since your son has gotten to the point where he is leaving bald spots, talking to a trusted family doc or pedi might also be a good thing to do too. Your son may not be able to control the urge to do it (as in it's a compulsive thing) and he may need some help that a professional can give (medication, counseling). You may want to mention Trichotillomania and see what they think.

***Sorry, just went back to read your OP and I see you already hit a dead end with the docs. Maybe you can get a referral or a second opinion?
post #4 of 13
I totally second the referral or another doc. My DD1 went to a mental health clinic for a while, they had a great children's program. She went in weekly and talked about things that bothered her, the counselor would offer suggestions on what to do when she got anxious, etc... There was some play therapy, she really enjoyed it, and her behaviors did improve.
post #5 of 13
ITA with seeking out counseling for both him and you, and getting a second opinion from a dr. My brother did this as a child, my parents had to keep his hari very short, and he eventually outgrew it.

Sorry Mama, hang in there. Can you get some support for yourself? Your last sentence makes me wonder if perhaps you are depressed. Big hugs to you.
post #6 of 13
Our son twists his hair, and went through a period where he was losing his hair. He still does it off and on. I would definitely recommend that you look into counseling/evaluation. Ds turned out not to need treatment (his hair pulling subsided without it), bu we did have him evaluated for general anxiety and got some strategies for dealing with him.

Several things that we tried:
1. Keeping his hair short. It took a while, but when he was finally able to articulate what would help him, one of the things that he said was "if my hair is short, I can't twist it".
2. Having him wear a hat -- that interrupts the movement and can help eliminate it.
3. Watching him to see when he does it and then provide him with other things to fiddle with during those times. Ds does it absent-mindedly while reading and when nervous.
4. Providing him with other sensory toys that he can use with his hands during the times when he normally pulls his hair. A Koosh ball or other fidget toys (we got a Tangle Jr.)

Things for you:
Freeing your Child from Anxiety is great book for parents of anxious kids.

Schedule time for YOU to recover. You can help your kids if your burnt out!
post #7 of 13
My DD was doing this last year. In addition to the anxiety angle, you might want to look into the fact that pulling and twisting gives stimulation to the scalp. We cut hair shorter and we also worked to help give DD the stimulation we needed, by giving her deep massages on her head and back and letting her chew gum more often.
post #8 of 13
He is old enough to say whether he wants his hair short again or not. Talk to him about the bald spots and ask him if he would like to have it short for a while. He may also enjoy taking up a hobby like knitting, crocheting, beading, sewing, or weaving. It would occupy his hands and keep his mind engaged with learning something fun. Some community centers have classes that are very affordable. There are also books he may be able to learn from and some yarn shops have a free drop in knit and crochet time where they will help people learn the craft.
post #9 of 13

Almost unrelated but...antibiotics

We found out all of the courses due to persistant ear infections was the cause of scalp irritation and my son pulling out his hair little by little. It was so disturbing to see so I do understand that. I immediately requested tubes, stopped the antibiotics, and started selsen blue for a bit and it helped except for the part that was habit forming. He has since--mostly--stopped. Hear's hoping that you and yours find relief
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I was feeling so lost and yes as a pp said I am depressed myself and suffer from Bipolar amongst other things. I how ever did not realize how common it is and that it was actually classified as an obessive disorder.

My son wanted his hair short and we are going to work on some cognitive therapy with him.

For me I am going to try real hard to better my own coping skills and hopefully in the process help him to do this as well.

He also asked me today about knitting we have been doing a lot of crocheting and finger knitting so tomorrow we will officially start learning how to knit!

post #11 of 13
I thought this article might be of interest to you:


Amino Acid N-Acetylcysteine Eases Compulsive Behavior Such as Hair Pulling
post #12 of 13
Haven't gotten through all the posts as my kiddo is about to wake up, but I would definitely consider the possibility that this is a (maladaptive) coping strategy for him. Does he suffer from anxiety? Perhaps a therapist could work with him on finding other ways to cope and other healthy options if he is feeling stressed or anxious. What is he stressed/anxious about? Are there ways to eliminate this?

And--for you--your kids NEED you. You are their one and only mom. How are you doing emotionally? It worries me that you feel like they'd be better off without you. It sounds like both you and your child would benefit from seeing a therapist. Good luck.
post #13 of 13
Cognitive Therapy definately sounds like the way to go. Good luck getting help yourself.
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