Do you have a child or know a child who loves to chew on everything? There are some kids who love to chew on anything they can get their hands on – shirt collars, shirt sleeves, hair, nails, pencils, erasers, papers, toys, power cords, you name it and I’m sure there’s a kid who’s chewed on it! Often these children don’t even notice they are doing it. They naturally gravitate to these items and put them into their mouths without even thinking about it. It can be calming to children (and adults) to chew so you may notice that they do it when they are in difficult or stressful situations or when they are tired at the end of the day.
Mouthing objects is a part of the normal developmental sequence. One of the reasons babies and toddlers put objects in their mouths to learn about them. As children get older many of them will stop mouthing objects but there are others, especially those with Autism, developmental delays or sensory difficulties, that will continue. As children get older it becomes less socially acceptable to mouth objects and can be a hazard to their health if they are chewing on dangerous objects.
Here are some tips to help curb chewing on everything and maybe save some clothes!
- Gum – if the child is old enough allow them to chew gum as it can provide the same calming effect
- Chewlery/Pencil Toppers – provide the child with jewellery or pencil toppers that are made to be chewed on
- Electric Toothbrush – increases the amount of proprioceptive input to the mouth which can be calming and fill the need for that deep pressure in the mouth
- Heavy Work – provide the child with daily heavy work activities (blog coming soon) which gives the body the proprioceptive input that they may be seeking through chewing