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Resources to Help Kids Thrive

This newsletter contains a weekly update of content from featuring parenting advice, in-depth articles, and the latest thinking on children’s mental health and learning disorders.

When Kids Harm Their Bodies

March 5, 2024

When children pick at their skin or pull at their hair so much that they hurt themselves — leaving scabs or bald spots — they often say they can’t stop, even if they’re embarrassed or being bullied by other kids because of it. That’s because doing these things makes them feel better in a hard-to-understand way. These disorders include trichotillomania (hair-pulling) and excoriation (skin-picking). Experts call them body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), and kids use them to alleviate stress.

This week at we look at a specialized behavioral therapy called ComB, developed for kids who have these behaviors. ComB (comprehensive behavioral therapy) combines several different kinds of therapy to divert kids from skin-picking or hair-pulling and give them other tools to manage uncomfortable feelings. BFRBs are not the same as self-injury, when kids cut, burn, or scratch themselves to intentionally cause pain. But self-injury is also a response to difficult feelings. And some of the same kinds of therapy that are included in ComB — DBT and ACT — are used to help kids who self-injure too.

– Caroline Miller, Editorial Director | 

Related Resources

ComB: Treatment for Hair-pulling, Skin-picking

A treatment for body-focused repetitive behaviors that combines several kinds of therapy.


What Is Trichotillomania?

When hair pulling becomes a serious compulsion.


What Is Excoriation, or Skin-Picking?

When kids, usually teens, can't stop picking at skin or cuticles.


Help for Cutting and Other Self-Injury

When kids intentionally hurt themselves, often by cutting or scratching their skin, to manage difficult emotions.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Teens

ACT is a form of therapy that helps kids accept difficult emotions without self-harming.


DBT: What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

A treatment for teenagers with serious trouble managing emotions.


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