I'm copying and pasting this from some healthy kids site I found.
|I must ask you first to consider whether this behavior may be a sign of stress, or whether there are other compulsive habits as well. Has your child experienced any recent changes in her life that she may be having trouble coping with? Has this been going on a while? If you have doubts, then bring her into your pediatrician's office to address the larger picture.
If your daughter is otherwise healthy and thriving, and this is an isolated habit -- like thumb-sucking or chewing on the ends of pencils -- then here are a few suggestions. First, try to figure out if there is a pattern to why and when she is chewing. Is it when she is bored? Tired? Anxious? To get attention? If there are definite triggers, address them directly.
Second, although forbidding the behavior doesn't work (and often creates more anxiety), containing it is a fair step. Explain to her that it is unsightly, that it encourages your younger daughter to chew and brings a lot of germs into her body. If she still needs to chew, she must do so away from company, alone, in a quiet place in the house with no TV or computer. She then still stays in control of the decision, but has to decide whether it is worth it. Last, offer her a substitute for the chewing behavior. Small dolls or objects she can rustle in her pocket, a safe chain or bracelet she can twist. See if she can transfer her needs to a more acceptable habit.
|As a Kindergarten teacher I see this behavior off and on all year long. My main concern is safety (metal ends of pencils) and health (who knows where it's been!). I don't normally make a point of calling parents about it unless it's a ongoing thing or a safety issue. I also have tried giving a student a spoon to suck on, or a straw to chew on, but only at "sitting" times during the day. I've come to the conclusion that they're going to do it, so I'd better have the right/safe things for them to do it with.
It could be a nervous habit. It could be an oral sensitivity. Either way, she's bringing germs into her body that shouldn't be there. In high school, we had to test pens and pencils for certain germs, as well as the lockers and the toilets. The pens and pencils had SOOOO many disgusting germs, and the toilets were actually pretty clean. (money was really bad too FYI)
I was a HORRIBLE pen chewer! I still do it occasionally. I have no Idea why I have the compulsion to do it, and I didn't stop til I was an adult and realized I put the bank tellers pen in my mouth. I made an effort from then on to stop. But, I still use my mouth like a third hand, and I really wish I could stop.
I don't think it's a bad idea to buy some of those chew tubes for her and tell her that she needs to use those instead. (explain the reasons why it's healthier) and find things that are always available to her that are acceptable objects to chew. (remember wax lips/bottles? Those were perfect for me when I was a kid)
I actually have to replace my tooth brush often because I chew on it while I'm brushing.
Chew tubes. http://www.amazon.com/Speech-Patholo.../dp/B00175ROGU