My 4.5-year-old was a “nuk” baby—we had a terrible time getting rid of it at age 3 (just for naps and bedtime since age 2), but had to because it caused the roof of her mouth to be misshapen. It was by far the thing that calmed her down the most, and we really have been unable to find something that helps her stay as calm as she was when she had the nuk.
For a while she was doing OK without it, but in the last 2 mos or so she’s started chewing on her hair. Which isn’t the worst thing, except that she LOVES long hair and gets so upset when we tell her that she’s ruining her hair and may need to get it cut. (We’re not threatening her, it really is starting to look terrible and we’re starting to not be able to comb through the snarls.) I have offered to buy her something else to chew on (baby teething rings was my thought) but she just says she wouldn’t use it because she likes the feel and taste of chewing on her hair.
My first question is: how do I help her learn to calm herself better? We have tried talking to her many, many times over the years—asking for her input, providing our own suggestions, etc. She is not very open to trying other things. My second questions is: could this indicate some sort of sensory issue? If it does, how should we go about helping her manage that?
My dd is similar. She also chews her shirts, straws, etc. I find chewy stix to be a good alternative for her and we keep her hair short (her choice) because she hates having it brushed. Sure, it could indicate sensory issues. If you are concerned get an evaluation. I find it is very difficult for parents to accurately evaluate their own children. You can read checklists and such to get an idea of course. My ds had/has some sensory issues that were helped by about 6 months of OT. I've been able to manage my dd's issues at home mostly based on what I learned when my ds was going through his OT.
Many 4 year olds still breastfeed, and those who are weaned often suck their thumb or something else. That does not usually mean there is any problem at all, and usually does not require any action. I think it would be okay to just let her chew her hair all she wants. It is not a sin to go about with ratty hair, she will grow out of it, and the hair will grow out just fine eventually.
Cloth diapering, Non-Vax, Bedsharing Mama to Maya 3-25-08, Mila 6-28-12 and DP Marc
When I first came to the mothering.com forums, the very first post I read was about a little girl who chewed her hair. I loved the response which suggested tying her hair back but leaving a chewing piece out.