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Advice for Hair Pulling Children and Teens: 
My Child is Being Teased At School!

by Abby Leora Rohrer

Unless the situation is extreme or your child is less than five or six, she should be supported to handle dealing with other children by herself.  This way, she will begin to develop skills to handle these types of situations throughout her life.  However, because of the sensitivity and low self-esteem of hair pullers, she may not feel up to the task of dealing with things herself. 

“I need serious help now.  I pull my hair out when I don’t want to, I just find myself doing it.  I have problems at home and in the serious relationship I am having.  I don’t like doing it but I just can’t seem to stop myself.  I have tried everything that I have been told to and nothing seems to work!

“Can you help me please?  I have a prom to go to soon, and I want my hair to look perfect instead of people looking at me and laughing.”                   
--Chantelle, 16 year-old hair puller 

Ask if she’s willing to sit down with you, with pencil and pad, to brainstorm some ideas that can help her.  Have a real family meeting to discuss ways to deal with bullies in a direct, rather than indirect way.  Keep in mind that many of the kids at your child’s school may be raised in rougher families than your own and that these children may have more “street sense” than your child.  Help her not to lose her innocence, but to learn how to handle this type of treatment in a way that will defuse things rather than “add fuel to the fire.”

Let her know that if she needs additional assistance, she can speak with her teacher.  If that doesn’t work, suggest that she come back to put together a further plan of action and to find out what did work and what did not.

Here’s some advice for your child from my daughter:  “People will tease you at school no matter what.  In fact, everyone gets teased, but it’s the sensitive kids who get teased more because they don’t know how to stand up to bullies.  Instead of acting like you’re weird or that something is wrong with you due to your hair pulling, simply and directly express the truth.  I have a problem with hair pulling.  It’s a lot like nail-biting and other stuff like that.”

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