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Day Care Punishes Toddler With Weighted Vest

Photograph by Twenty20

We all dread our baby's "grabby" phase. You know, when little ones grab glasses, earrings and necklaces, and for some reason can't get enough of yanking the hair out of our heads? Well, for one dad who wrote in to a parenting subreddit thread, his son's "grabbing" problem not only got him in trouble at day care but also resulted in a bizarre form of punishment.

Reddit user Kiplarson explained that his baby had a problem with pulling hair, but it was only when he went to day care that the problem intensified.

"My son, 1 year, 3 months, has been grabby since he was a baby," Kiplarson wrote. "Any time something was in reach, he would grab for it and hold on like his life depended on it.

"I never thought it was a bad thing until a couple months ago, about a month after he started day care. He started grabbing other children’s hair, and holding on like there was no tomorrow," he explained.

The day care workers at his son's school warned the parents that the hair-pulling had become "a somewhat regular occurrence," so at home the parents started to become more proactive in getting their boy to stop.

"Any time we saw a grab in the near future," he wrote, they coached his sister "on not triggering the behavior and [giving] him a stern 'no' when he does grab."

But then things at day care got a little strange.

"A week ago, my wife went to pick him up from day care and noticed that he was wearing a weighted vest," Kiplarson wrote. "The vest looked too big for him, and we were told it was being used to give him comfort and make it feel like he was being held."

The vest looked too big for him, and we were told it was being used to give him comfort and make it feel like he was being held.

But that explanation didn't sit well with the parents. "I am concerned that this vest is not sized properly for a child that just learned to walk, and that these things shouldn’t be used by the day care without our knowledge or consent," he explained.

He then asked if anyone else had dealt with extreme hair-pulling and wondered if he was wrong for being upset with the day care's "soothing methods."

Many people responded that weighted vests are meant for kids who have specific sensory issues, not as a punishment for misbehavior.

According to National Autism Resources, "children with autism who are working with an occupational therapist or are involved in sensory integration therapy will be recommended to use a weighted vest."

The benefits of a weighted vest can help improve a child's ability to pay attention in class, to provide deep pressure stimulation that can have a calming effect, and to help decrease "stereotypical" autism behaviors. But even then the website notes that weighted vests "are not appropriate for all children on the spectrum."

Weighted vests have not been recommended as a way to deal with behavioral problems by any children's health or psychological organizations.

"They should have consent or talked to you about options in a formal meeting," one person wrote on Reddit.

Another person strongly advised that the parents ask the day care about its policy on hair-pulling and confirmed that hair-pulling is "completely developmentally appropriate" for little kids.

"It sounds like a sit-down conversation needs to be had," the person wrote. "All adults involved need to be on the same page about whatever is happening in their classroom."

Kiplarson later updated his post and shared that they spoke with the supervisor at their son's day care, and it was "agreed that usage of the vest was a miscommunication, and will be halted immediately."

"I'm a little frustrated that it happened at all, but we do otherwise have a good relationship with everyone at this facility and are very happy with the love and care they provide our child."

The dad said that the family will be looking for more tools to deal with their son's "grabbing behavior."

"We'll be trying new things, and here's hoping something takes," he added.

This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.