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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Jan 19, 2011

January 19, 2011

Mouthing Constantly ~ Is This Normal For Preschool Kids

Hypo- or hyper- sensitivities
must be treated by professionals 
 Chewing and mouthing behaviors are a normal part of a healthy developing child. After 18 months of age, most children will not be mouthing objects or toys preferring to use their hands to explore or play with them. If a child is a frequent or habitual bitter of everything at his disposal past toddler-hood, parents should find out if this is normal. You should be looking for preferred activities to allow for oral stimulation past toddler years to replace sucking, licking, chewing and biting inappropriate objects that bring into question safety and hygiene.

 Judith Hudson, developmental psychologist wrote: "Preschoolers don't have clear boundaries between edible and inedible things; putting something in his mouth is a way for your child to see if it tastes good. Visually, there's not much difference between a doughnut and a stacking ring, yet adults and older children know that one is food and the other isn't. To discourage your child from putting inedible objects in his mouth, emphasize the distinction between things that go in the mouth (namely food) and things that don't. When he mouths his train, say, "That's a toy. Toys don't go in our mouths," or, "We put food in our mouths, not toys."

If your child continues to mouth everything around him, your child’s behavior might be a red flag that warrants an early intervention referral. The ealier the intervention, the better the results!

Why Would a Child Mouth

Parents can find support at
 SPD Blogger Network
 A child may have had sensitivity or medical issues in the mouth and missed his formative, infant mouthing stage, he/she might just be going through it late.

*A child may bite out of frustration, anxiety, stress or distress when he is placed in difficult situations or is surrounded by excessive noise and activity.

*A child may have sensory issues over/under-sensitivity to oral stimulation and his actions provide the necessary stimulation to the sensory system. Children with oral sensitivities, whether hypo- or hyper- sensitive, will need specific treatment and oral stimulation activities by a knowledgeable therapist.

What to do When a Child is Chewing or Biting Excessively

For all cases of excessive chewing or biting parents must be proactive.  Parents must  intercede before the mouthing problems get out of control. The time to act is now.

To prepare for a consult with professionals, parents should carefully observe and document when this behavior occurs and try to identify the causes. Does mouthing occur when the child is tired, angry, anxious, overwhelmed, bored…write it as a journal with lots of notes.

To stop the biting requires
 getting to the root of the biting problem.

Many communities have Early Intervention Programs that give a head start to children 3 years and older. Take advantage of all these services offered before your child reaches school age. The goal of these programs is to get your child school-ready and to plan with the school what accommodations your child should receive when he gets there.   

When a family has knowledge and support it increases their chance of success. In turn, early treatment can improve their lives  and those of their kids at home, at school and at play.

Once a child turns 3 years old,
 biting may indicate other
behavioral problems.

Disorders Having  Biting and Chewing as Symptoms
(note that many disorders can co-exist)

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including Aspergers  (AS)

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Related Posts:

*Canada Limiting Phthalates ~ Making Kids' Items Safer

*Kid Companions Chewelry ~ An Attempt At Restoring Sanity by Ali Foley Shenk

*Passed Toddlerhood and Still Mouthing ~ Guest Post ~ by Emma Apple

*There is a New Kid Companion on Our Block

*Product Innovators Launch Unique Sensory Tool for Special Needs Youth
What would tip you off that a child is biting or chewing beyond the normal mouthing stage?

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