My daughter is spicy. She is feisty. She is perfectly perfect in my eyes. She is missing her two front teeth thanks to our coffee table and rocks a pixie! My daughter has been diagnosed with Loose Anagen Syndrome, thin hair that comes out easily, as well as Trichotillomania which is the irresistible urge to pull her hair out hair. I tracked her behaviors and noticed that she twirls and pulls her hair most often when she is anxious and when she is self-soothing before nap/bed.
Over the past year and a half, my husband and I put many interventions in place for her including visuals, token charts, positive reinforcement, wave caps, silk pillow cases, gave her dolls with silky hair and other fidgets. After a lot of hard work as a family and multiple trips to an occupational therapist, dermatologist, pediatric dermatologist, child psychologist and her pediatrician, we began to see a decrease in hair clumps around our house. We celebrated!!!
Unfortunately, in November, after months without finding any clumps of hair around our house, I began noticing them on her pillow and blanket that she uses for nap at her childcare facility. As a behavior specialist, I knew that there would be spikes in her twirling, but it was quite a drastic spike. My husband and I began monitoring her closely again and noticed she was not doing it on the weekends. Then we spent Thanksgiving in Michigan and she did not touch her hair a single time. I thought, maybe the last few weeks were a fluke, but after one day back at her childcare placement, I found clumps on her clothes and knots in her hair. It hit me like a truck. She had been asking for weeks at drop off to “stay home with mommy” and to have “girl’s day” which I interpreted as her wanting to spend time with her awesome mom, when really, she was using spending time with me as a way to escape an environment that was not meeting her needs.
When I finally realized this, I CRIED! She was emotionally not healthy at her child care placement. I also cried because I knew I had to locate a new placement for her after our family had used this placement for 3 years! We liked the placement, but unfortunately her class size was very large (24 three year olds!) and I began to notice more and more staff raising their voices at the kids…three year olds that needed to be taught what the expectation was…not yelled at for not knowing it.
So, I’ll be honest, I cried some more. Then I went and toured Kiddie Academy. They were the first place on my list and after touring their facility, I didn’t even make it to the rest of the facilities on my list. I immediately fell in love with their play based curriculum (I taught preschool in the past!) and the soft loving voices they used with the children in their classes. I observed them teaching individual students how to self-regulate by modeling how to calm their body. I also loved how my daughters now teacher answered every one of my “what if” questions and behavior management questions perfectly to my liking! My tears stopped. I knew my daughter needed to go there!
I immediately filled out my registration forms and called my husband to come take a tour of the building and the preschool classroom. He also loved what he saw. The following Monday my daughter started at Kiddie Academy. I was worried that the change in preschools would cause her stress and we would notice more clumps of hair, but from day 1 the placement has been a good fit for her.
In the past 4 months we have noticed her hair twirling and pulling is almost non-existent and her hair is getting longer and fuller. She always wants to stay when I get there to pick her up and she loves to share with us all of the fun activities she does and the friends that she is making. Not only does she seem less anxious, but my family has noticed a positive increase in her language skills, social skills, and fine and gross motor skills. She is thriving. I am glad I trusted my gut and changed her environment. I am thankful for Kiddie Academy, the loving tone they use to talk with children, how they teach kids problems solving and right from wrong vs just giving them a consequence. We are thankful for the love and support they have given my daughter!