Nervous behaviors in 4 year old? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-11-2010, 11:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi. This is my 1st time posting outside of Single Parenting, but this is not really a Single parenting type of issue.
My almost 4 yo DS seems to have some nervous type behaviors. I'm wondering how common this is, how concerned I should be, and how I should handle it.
Currently he does a lot of "licking." He is constantly licking his lips above and below them. The skin below his bottom lip and often his chin as well gets very red, irritated and sore. Then he complains that his face hurts. I put lotion on it at home and try to always have chapstick handy for him. And it seems to go in phases. I can't really put together any sort of pattern as to when it's worse. I used to think it was worse when he was away from me... at school or at his Dad's. But now I'm not so sure.
He seems to like to lick things in general, always has his fingers or hands in his mouth, will drag his hand down his bottom lip, etc.
In the past he used to chew the top of his shirt or his shirt sleeve until it was soaking wet.

Any thoughts or similar experiences? So far I am trying to downplay it, but I think he knows it gets to me. I hate to see his face all red and sore!! Plus his father is always telling him not to lick. He is resistant to that idea, says he likes to.

All of a sudden lately he also does not want to go anywhere in the house on his own (and I have a small house!). He wants me to come with him to the bathroom, etc. But can't explain why. AND he started suddenly having hard drop offs at school after being fine and loving it there all year. No apparent reason and he can't seem to tell me.

With all of those thing together... do you think I should be concerned? And if so... then what?
Thank you!
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#2 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 12:41 AM
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My DS is also 4 and has a few nervous quirks of his own. He is a pretty shy and reserved boy. He used to do this thing with his hand where he would make a V with his pointer finger and middle finger and touch his eyes.. like the inner corners, if you can imagine it.. over it nose. He would do this whenever anyone would talk to him in public or when he was watching a movie etc... something he didnt even realize he was doing. He would do that or brush his hand across his forehead, like he was pushing hair out of his eyes (but there was no hair there to brush) I asked our ped about it and she said it was like a nervous twitch, just something he would grow out of. I used to just bring his hand away from his face nonchalantly when he did it, and eventually he just stopped all together.
He also will nervously rub his hand on his neck whenever a stranger talks to him or if we ask him questions or something he is not so sure the answer of. He has always done this neck thing to me, and DH as well. I think it stems from when he was nursing, he would rub his hand/arm on my neck as a comfort thing. He also likes to fall asleep with his hand on me or DH's neck.
Just in the past few days he started with this blinking thing.. he will blink his eyes over and over for no reason... he says there is "air on them" when he doesnt do it... so im thinking allergy related this time? Still looking into this one!
I dont have much advice but wanted to share some similarities... from what I read it seems like just him focusing energy on something when he is uncomfortable. And you know how chapped lips are once they are chapped and you have no chapstick.. its hard not to lick!
Take care mama!
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#3 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, Bananapancakes. That stuff is really helpful to hear.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 08:51 AM
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My DD (just turned 4) had the lip thing last year. Once it started it took months & months to disappear. She hated putting anything on it and nothing seemed to work anyway. I must say, it first turned up not long after the birth of her little brother which she did have a hard time adjusting to so it could be a sign of stress
The lip thing is long gone & I'm pretty sure she's no longer stressed but she doesn't like to be far from me at home. During the day she'll be in the next room if the door is open in between but at night she prefers to stay in the same room. We have plenty of space outside but she wont play outside without me. I think that's fairly normal for this age.

grateful Mama to DD May '06 and DS May '09
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#5 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Interesting about having that start when the new baby came. Yes, I actually DO feel like DS is stressed right now. But I am not sure why. He seems on edge a lot.

My first thought is always to worry about how things are at his Dad's house. But honestly, I have been feeling very stressed an anxious for a while. I am trying to do things to take care of myself and manage it, but I wonder if he is absorbing it in some way. He spends most of his time with me.

His sleep has always been very disrupted, but it seems even worse lately. And then he gets even less sleep one night/week when he is at his Dad's (although that is the one night that I get more sleep!). And he is in that stage where he mostly won't nap, and when he does, he has a hard time getting to bed at night. But he is tired at naptime for sure. I worry that he is overtired in general (I know I am). Which adds to feeling stressed I'm sure.

I am concerned about what to do with his nighttime sleep... though I guess that is a post for another forum. I just feel like all together these things are painting a picture, you know?

Anyway... it's really nice to hear other peoples' experiences with this age and these kinds of things. I'm finding this age to be challenging. Thank you.
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#6 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 05:04 PM
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Don't really have any advice but just wanted to share. My ds (also nearly 4) pulls at his upper lip with his fingers sometimes, I don't think he's aware that he's doing it. He also recently started getting scared. Suddenly he wants me to take him to the toilet, stay with him until he falls asleep etc. He has a very stable homelife with predictable routines. That's why I'm convinced it's just something to do with a stage in his development. He's said things like 'what was that noise? Was that the big bad wolf?' They are becoming more and more aware of the wider world and yet still are far from understanding it. Then mix in all the fantasy figures from stories, tv etc, that they take to be real. Then all the real worries they have like will that kid at pre-school take their favourite toy again. It must all get pretty stressful sometimes. I just try to reassure ds that I (or his father, teacher, etc) will always be here to look after him. I ignore the lip thing because I worry that making an issue of it will make it worse.

As for sleep, things got a lot better for us when ds dropped his nap. At bedtime he is so tired, he falls asleep within minutes and sleeps soundly. If he does nap it takes him a LONG time to fall asleep at night and that means lots of time to worry about the dark corners in the room and the creaky floorboards
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#7 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 08:36 PM
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My 4 yo dd is just now getting out of an oral phase--she's nearly 4.5 and it started when she just turned 4. I know for her that it wasn't due to stress (nothing changed here!) but rather just a phase. She would lick her lips, was obsessed over drying her inside lips off, would chew on her shirts, etc. I just handled it non-chalantly--I would casually mention things like, "please don't chew on your shirt. It's getting all wet and cold"--but other than that, I just left it alone. Now, she's over it.

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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#8 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 03:40 PM
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DS does that sort of a thing when stressed as well. He has some mild Sensory Processing difficulties and he does it to self soothe when he's feeling stressed. We have tried to talk to him about if it makes him feel better when he does that and talked about some other things that he could do to help him feel better that don't create the chapping issue. They make special chewy things (non-food) to help kids with SPD who self-soothe orally. Maybe something like that would be helpful for your DS? (SPD or not, I think many kids do this sort of thing as a comfort at this age)

Toni : Mom to: Zadock 7/25/05 and Aylin 1/30/07 :
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