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Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Repetitive Behaviors (RB) are a group of impulse control disorders such as tourretes syndrome, trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking), and onychophagia (nail biting). It is now believed that these behaviors are due a neurological or genetic predisposition, and then are inadvertently self-reinforced. These behaviors can be prove problematic for children and lead embarrassment, disruption of the environment, or even damage to their body and appearance. Children who suffer from these disorders also experience intense shame and distress over their behavior. They may even begin avoiding places or situations that might reveal their problem. No matter which form of repetitive behavior a child may have, the treatment guidelines involve similar functional behavioral principles.

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Treatment of body focused repetitive behaviors begin by first understanding the function of the behaviors and identifying the chain of events leading up to it. The child will be taught to self-monitor their own emotions and identify environmental triggers that consistently precipitate the behavior. Wearable tracking technology like Keen by Habit Aware can be used to track and alert the child when they are about to engage in the behavior so that effective alternative behaviors can be taught. In many cases these behaviors can coincide with periods of stress, anxiety, or boredom. In those cases, alternative emotion regulation strategies can be taught to assist the child in becoming emotionally aware and able to replace dysfunctional thoughts.

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