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Six year old putting hands in mouth all the time

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Over the last couple of months, DS1 (6) has started putting his fingers in his mouth a lot. Sometimes he keeps his fingers in his mouth, sometimes he licks his hands, sometimes even licks his arms. It's driving me mad! Telling him not to do it is having no impact whatsoever, except from getting us both nervous... He has some sensory issues and this seems to be a sort of physical need for him. He also had some anxiety issues in the past, although he is pretty relaxed at the moment. I'm pregnant right now, so there may be some anxiety with that.


I really, really want him to stop as I think he's going to get sick and because he'll be going to "big" school in September and I think this could cause some teasing and rejection.


Ideas that I have had are 1) letting him chew gum 2) getting him a boyish necklace to chew instead (gotta be more hygienic than his fingers).


Or, should I just try to chill out and assume that this will pass?

post #2 of 8

If he wasn't doing this before, and especially if he did it when he was a baby/toddler and teething, I wonder if he's about to lose a tooth or two and get grown up ones? It's about the right time for it, and I've seen kids do that when there's something dental going on. 

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

I think it probably started right around the time he lost a tooth, but then turned into a habit. It's true that there are certainly lots of changes going on in his mouth, so I should probably relax about it until that's over. I just hate imagining all those germs going in!

post #4 of 8

Same boat over here.  My DS started with sniffing everything, which has progressed to licking.  My husband did it, too, around that age :)  and he recalls quite vividly how his mom did NOT handle it well--and I think it's because she was more annoyed by it than genuinely concerned about germs.  I try to leave it alone, but I do tell DS there are times/places when it's not okay.

post #5 of 8

It may be the anxiety.  My dd (7) has anxiety and she chews her hands all.the.time.  She is in therapy, but it doesn't seem to be helping her much.  I'm lucky that her immune system is awesome...so she hasn't been getting sick.  But it is a bad habit that I'd like for her to break.  I wish I had some great advice for you, but I don't.  Just wanted you to know that you're not alone.


Oh!  Her teacher and school therapist gave her a squeezy ball to squeeze in class instead of chewing her hands.  So that may work for your ds when it comes to school (or maybe even for at home?).  It didn't work for my dd though.  The bullies in her class just kept stealing her darn ball until everyone gave up on the idea.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. I'm trying to just relax about it for a while and we'll see how he is when new teeth come through, baby is born etc. I suspect it is anxiety, so having me getting at him all day is definitely not going to help very much.

post #7 of 8

We are constantly telling 8 yo DSD to get her hands/fingers out of her mouth. A year or so ago she had warts because of it, on a thumb and around her mouth.  Annoys the heck out of me but she won't stop.  And this is another thing to add to the list of things she's only been doing for the past couple of years.  If she is ADHD (we're getting her tested) then  perhaps it has to do with that.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Since starting this thread my son came down with a virus and has been at home for a few days. Nothing serious, just a bit of fever really. Anyway, he hasn't put his hands in his mouth all week - he is worried about any more germs getting in. Just before he got ill we looked at a kids' book together about the human body and it went into detail about germs and how the body fights them (plus some scary cartoon pictures of evil germs!).

My son is very into "keeping healthy", so this seemed to really hit home for him. I'm hoping that even if this awareness is short-lived, it will be long enough to break the habit..

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