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What to do about oral fixation?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
No, I'm not talking about kissing - which seems to be a timely topic these days in this forum. I'm talking about CONSTANTLY chewing on fingers, fingernails, hair, jewelry, etc. No surprise that nagging isn't working (i.e. telling her to remove whatever is in her mouth at the moment, taking away the necklace, asking her to put her hair in a pony, etc.). Last night, she was rolling something around in her mouth - sounded like a piece of hard candy, so I'm wondering why she's eating it without permission after she's already had a candybar, and I find out it's actually a penny! YUCK! She's going on 10, and has been oral since toddlerhood. Any way to successfully break this habit, replace it with another not so annoying, unsanitary, will-lead-people-to-think-you're-not-too-sure-of-yourself-or-what-you-have-to-say-cause-your-fingers-are-always-in-your-mouth habit? I have a 30 year old cousin who never broke this habit, and a lot of family members have a hard time understanding her because she talks with her hands, or her necklace, or a pencil (EWWW!) in her mouth. Pretty sure it doesn't help things during an interview, on a date, etc. either.
post #2 of 10
I have no suggestions, but I am VERY interested in this myself. My 13yo ds always chews his fingers. And not just the fingernail, he will have his whole finger in his mouth, chewing on it. In situations where he can not have his finger in his mouth, he chews on his tongue. It also started in toddlerhood, around age 2 when he was teething. He nursed until he was 3 1/2, never had a bottle or pacifier.

I agree, it is not the best thing to look at and I am concerned of the image others will have of him as he gets older.
post #3 of 10
I have no suggestions,but I know now I am not alone. My DS is 8 and he is constantly putting stuff in his mouth. He has holes in some of his shirts from chewing on them. Everything goes in his mouth. It is hard to teach my 3.4 year old DS not to put stuff in his mouth when his older brother does all the time. I just don't understand why he does it now . He never did when he was younger. I would love to hear if anyone has any suggestions.
post #4 of 10
That is a good idea, pica. I have also heard counseling or an anti-anxiety drug may also be indicated. Chewing hair can be dangerous! Can lead to hairballs in her stomach which can be serious.

How abt a vit-mineral supplement (chewing on a penny or a pencil would release metals), and a visit to a counselor?
post #5 of 10
There are oral fidgets available through a physical-therapy supply store. They are specifically for kids who use their mouths as a way to calm themselves. Look in the Yellow Pages for physical therapy supplies, and call around until you find them.
I don't know why kids have fidget issues. They just do. It sounds like you're wise enough to know nagging isn't going to accomplish squat. Try the oral fidgets. Good luck.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great suggestions, as well as the empathy. I just read The Continuum Concept, so we decided to bring her back to bed with us. Trouble is, we don't all fit, so she's with me and the babe, and daddy's sleeping on the futon downstairs. I was skeptical, and I'm trying really hard not to see improvement where there is none, but I think it's actually making a difference.

I'm going to start paying closer attention to what's in her mouth to see if it might be a dietary def. I don't think so, because I'm pretty sure it's most often her fingers or hair.

I don't remember when I first posted this - it's back on the other page and I'm not going back for fear I lose this typing, but I think it was right before her mom got remarried. Now that things are mostly settled - dad's remarried and has a new house, mom's remarried, school is consistent (she was in five different daycares due to mom's moving around, but has been in the same elementary school since Kindergarten), baby's here - I think that's been helpful too. She has less to feel anxious about.
post #7 of 10
sorry, having to remove all posts with personal info due to an online stalker.
post #8 of 10
I'm just curious.........

At what age did your child stop breastfeeding or using a bottle? And did they use a Pacifier at all ? For how long? Did you TAKE away these items with a lot of crying and stress, or was the child ready to give them up on their own?

Sorry for all the questions........ I have a 4 year old who currently still uses a pacifier.

post #9 of 10
Wow, with that many changes in her life, it's not at all surprising that she's fidgety and somewhat anxious.

I'd certainly not nag her about it - if you've ever been nagged about a habit, you'll know that this has the opposite effect. I'd do everything to build her sense of security and confidence and focus on that totally rather than the mouth issue.

I think you're seeing a sypmtom rather than the actual issue itself - great idea to bring her back to bed with you. I'd give her time to get used to all these changes, and I"m sure gradually the fidgeting will ease up. If not, she'll deal with it when she's older and can address it herself.

post #10 of 10
I agree with not nagging. But, I might nag or try to find a replacement for the penny. Pennies these days are made from zinc with a thin coating of copper. While our bodies need some of both of these things, sucking on them and letting the saliva liberate the metals is not a good idea. Large quantities of either can cause many many problems. And don't let her have any nickel jewlery either. Get her sterling silver if she is prone to chew on the jewelry. A lot of the cheap silvers have a high nickel content.
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