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How to Help a Child Who Pulls Hair or Picks Skin: Interview with Aneela & Ellen from Habitaware
Your daughter comes home from school and half her eyebrows are gone. You are giving your son a bath and you notice a patch of hair missing from the back of his head. Your teenager picks at her skin until she creates scabs. This behavior can freak parents out! I know – it freaked me out. When scabs started showing up on my daughter’s forehead I didn’t know what to think. Why does she keep getting scabs in that one area? Then one day I saw her little hand digging deep into her skin. My heart sank. “What?”She said staring at me with big eyes. “I like to pick.” She said simply. She is not alone. Many of us have a child who pulls hair or picks skin. And many of us feel desperate to make them stop.
Picking and pulling behavior (also known as Trichotillomania) are part of a group of disorders known as BFRBs, body-focused repetitive behaviors. Other behaviors can include things like nail biting, cheek biting, lip picking and tongue chewing.
I invited Aneela Idnani Kumar and Ellen Crupi to come onto the AT Parenting Survival Podcast to help give us insight into BFRBs and teach us the best ways to approach a child with these behaviors. Aneela is the inspiration for the Keen bracelet and creator of the company Habitaware. The Keen bracelet is an engineering miracle that quietly notifies people with BFRBs when they are doing the unwanted behavior. Ellen is Habitaware’s Director of Sales and Awareness and a hair puller herself.
Aneela and Ellen share their own stories of what it was like to grow up with Trichotillomania. They share their wisdom of what helped them and what didn’t. They offer invaluable tips for parents struggling to know how to help their kids with picking and pulling disorders. Click below to listen:
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Resources for BFRBs:
The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
Private Facebook Group for Parents of children with BFRBs
Books on Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (Picking Disorder, Trichotillomania):
Fidget Toys to Help with BFRBs: