I have a 5yr. old in kindergarten this year and he has developed the habit of sucking on his shirt collars or sleeves until they are drenched in saliva. It is really disgusting and I don't know how to get him to stop doing it. I think it first started from being nervous and has now turned into a bad habit.

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Natalie - posted on 12/23/2008

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Can all you moms out there stop and think about this for a minute!! Your children are having a nervous reaction!! How many of you chewed your nails or sucked your thumb? The issue should not be about the clothing..that is a side effect that makes you upset because it costs...how do you think you children react when you tell them how gross it is? Guilty maybe? You need to address the underlying issue..why are they nervous? are they scared? is there something happening at school? Whatever it is, that is what you need to address. Find out what the problem is, give them an alternative to chewing or allow for chew tubes/chewlery/gum/etc. If you can help them learn how to calm themselves in their nervous state they will be able to stop chewing eventually.

I guarantee they are not doing it because they want to. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone..I sometimes feels that we don't always see the real problems until it's too late and the damage is done.

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Julene - posted on 01/05/2013

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my grandson i raise chews on hist shirt collar and chews on his shit buttons and also his coat zipper

Karen - posted on 01/06/2009

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I teach an after-care program at a church preschool and I would say that 95% of the kids chew on their clothes. I would have to say it is mostly from boredom. I also think that they like to see if they can get a reaction. Another favorite past-time for them is licking their hands and wiping it all over the table!! They laugh if you say yucky please don't do that, so I find the best remedy to all of the above is just to leave them alone.

Julie - posted on 01/04/2009

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Wow, I didn't think it was that common. My 8 yr old sucks on his clothes, and chews them, as well as chewing the buttons off. He is in private school so the uniforms are really expensive and having to replace them because he has chewed holes in them is getting to be a problem. He says it is when he is bored or nervous, but he doesn't do it at home. He does however put what ever he has in his hands in his mouth.

So if you find anything that helps I'd love to know.

[deleted account]

I would agree with natalie. Yes want to extinguish the behavior, but the issue underneath is of critical importance. My son too had this issue and as he grew in his confidence and ability the behavior subsided. Try to find a gentle way to adress the emotion your child may be feeling instead of labeling his behavior as gross disgusting, etc. you may ask your child what is distracting them , or suggest they hold a piece of sticky tack in their hand to roll and stratch if nervous. Involve the teacher, but try not to be punitive--that leaves wounds that inevitably will take this longer to resolve itself. Best of luck

Nikita - posted on 12/22/2008

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I just had a discussion on this topic two days ago with my neighbor. Her son, who is on Kindergarten, has started chewing on his shirt collars. My oldest child started chewing on her sleeves and shirt collars in Kindergarten as well. It started with her chewing on her hair. That was an easy fix, all ponytails were made high in the back. This way her hair could no longer reach her mouth. She fixed my feeling of success by moving onto clothes. She destroyed many cute tops this way. The white and cream ones were stained but all ended up stretched, discolored and full of small holes. I stopped buying the cute light colored and pastels tops and she was stuck in darker tops for quite a while. She did not like it when I would not buy the shirts she wanted, I would tell her I would not buy the new shirts until she takes better care of her other shirts. She mostly chewed on the shirts bc she was nervous, but would also do so when bored ( just not as vigorously). My daughter continued this behavior in first grade but it was not as bad and only on bad days or test days. By second grade she was down to only pulling her sleeves over her hands. Another thing I tried was for her to draw me a picture or write me little note when she felt like chewing. Instead of chewing when you missed mom, make me a little something I will love instead of a yucky mess to clean, and those mommy does not love. She thought I was funny, but she did give it a try. I told my neighbor that her son may be chewing out of boredom during the subjects that he ahead in, chewing out of frustration during times he struggles, and/or out of nervousness during times when others are getting in trouble and he just doesn’t want to get in trouble too in fear of disappointing anyone or chewing because he misses mom whom he has never been away from to this extent. During this my daughter ( who is now 11) came into the room and added her piece. She agreed that those reasons I gave were all reasons she chewed on he clothes. She said that she also chewed when she missed mommy and missed home. She said that when she chewed she could smell the clean smell with a little bit of mommy smell and it made her feel better. This was so sweet and made a lot of sense as my daughter is very sensory driven . By chewing her shirts she could feel, taste, and smell something that reminded her of being safe with mom. As she found other more acceptable ways to deal with these feelings, she stopped. For her it took a while, but for many it only lasts a few weeks.

Ann - posted on 12/22/2008

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Wow!! I thought I was the only one who had to pack an extra shirt for kindergarten. The school has been no help by saying they have never had a behavior like that and made me make up a bag of shirts for the week. It grosses me out when I am caught off guard with it--- Like we were in the grocery store shopping and I stopped to look at something for a moment and then grabbed his hand without looking. It was like grabbing a slug, gross. I sometimes get upset about it b/c I ask him to stop and I offer an alternative to the sucking of the sleeves. There is alot of good advise in this conversation, glad I looked. Thanks to all :)

Sandra - posted on 12/22/2008

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I've noticed my 5 yr old doing this also. I really noticed it at his first Christmas Concert this year. It was the first time he had ever been in an environment like that. I am just trying to ignore it in the hopes it will be another one of those things that will pass with time.

Kim - posted on 12/21/2008

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I feel for you, my son who is now 7 almost 8 still does that. He said he does that when he gets nervous. My grandma told me my uncle did this also but out grew it. My son has ruined a lot of nice shirts and I get frustrated with him but he has gotten a lot better than he was. Just be patient and see what happens.

Nicole - posted on 12/21/2008

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My son who is 5 and also in Kindergarten tends to suck his thumb at home when he is tired in the evening but when in public he chooses a sleeve or shirt collar instead and sometimes a zipper on his coat. He just seems to need something in his mouth all the time. I let him have gum when we head out to the store or to piano lessons so that he doesn't feel that need to soak his shirt. He also loves to suck on tic tacs or other breath mints so that helps....plus he loves to carry them around because they are 'his'.

Melissa - posted on 12/19/2008

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My son did this also last year (he was five in K). He said he got a little nervous sometimes in school and sometimes was bored. My husband was working at a school that served ED children at the time and the OT therapist gave him a small tube looking thing with bumps, kind of shaped like a 't' for our son to take to school to chew on instead of his sleeves. It worked and his teacher did not mind. I can't remember what it was called, but I found them online. It might have been called a chewy tube? A lot of children do this. In one of the weekly notes home from the school it said to "please discourage children from chewing on sleeves to reduce transmission of germs during cold an flu season." I found that my son was actually chewing holes in his clothing. This year he no longer does it. Hope this helps. Good luck!

Courtney - posted on 12/18/2008

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My son use to do that, he just said he was bored at school....but he eventually just stopped doing it, i think it's because i would make a fuss about how yucky it was.

Rachael - posted on 12/18/2008

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my daughter chews on her shirt sleeve too when she is nervouse she is 4. She doesnt soke it but its gross lol. Hopefully its something they will just grow out of. Maby you could reward him with a little something each time he comes home with his shirt not soaked? Worth a shot :)

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