Involving the School in Your Child’s BFRB: A Template for Teacher Communication

As part of our “Back to School” series, we asked parents in our keen family to share their tips.

In this week’s blog post, Courtney Spainhower shares just that and more.


From Courtney:

maela-trichotillomania-treatment-toolkit-keen-habitaware.jpg

We have found that the best way to create a cohesive and supportive environment for our child’s success is to have the tools we use at home incorporated into her school life, too.  After all, our kids are at school more waking hours than they spend at home during the school year!

You can use this template as a starting point for opening up communication with your child’s teacher. This is very simple to do for children in elementary school since they spend the majority of their day with the same teacher.  However, once middle school and high school begin, you will have the option of communicating with only their homeroom teacher, or each class teacher’s. This is personal preference and will depend on what you feel is best for your child.

courtney-mom-trichotillomania-hero

with love + hope,

Courtney Spainhower

A keen family mama



Dear [Name of Teacher, Principal, Guidance Counselor, etc.],

I’m writing to let you know that my [daughter/son/child] has a body-focused repetitive behavior or BFRB called [Trichotillomania/Dermatillomania, etc].  This is already on file with the school, but I wanted to give you a bit of information about this behavior and how we help [child’s name] manage their compulsion in a way that isn’t disruptive to the class.

Give a general description of they specific BFRB your child has.  For example:
The word “Trichotillomania”* sounds scary, but basically [child’s name] compulsively [pulls hair]* from [scalp, eyebrows, lashes, etc.]* and is often unaware of the behavior.  This is most likely to occur when working quietly, reading, or when [s/he/they] is getting tired.
*replace with the specific BFRB relevant to your child along with their specific habits.

List fidgets and other tools your child will have at school as specifically as possible and be sure to address the potential distraction they may cause other students.  For example:
I have provided a small tin of thinking putty, a fidget bracelet, an oak-a-feel, and Keen, a smart behavior tracking wristband for my child in a small pouch in [her/his/their] backpack.  It’s very important that [s/he/they] be able to use these items at [her/his/their] desk as needed as a way of controlling the impulse to [pull/pick/etc]. I’ve made sure these are all quiet fidgets so that they shouldn’t draw the attention of the other students or cause a distraction.  In the past, teachers have addressed the class letting them know that [child’s name] has special tools to help [her/him] focus, they are not toys, and they aren’t to be touched by the other students.

Please, if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at [email address] or call/text at [phone number].  If you’d like to read a bit about [specific BFRB], here is a link to a few organizations with some great information:

  • TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors: www.bfrb.org

  • The PickingMe Foundation: www.pickme.org

  • HabitAware Blog: www.habitaware.com/blog


Thank you,
[Your Name + Signature]