6 answers

4 Year Old Licking Things

My 4 year old just started licking things. I first noticed it when we went out to eat with friends and their son licked the resteraunt wall and she copied him. Since then, I have caught her licking everything, especially the bottoms of shoes. I have explained that these items have germs on them, and germs can make you very sick but it doesn't bother her. I even spanked her when she licked the shoe which didn't bother her either. Any thoughts on how to get her to quit this?

What can I do next?

More Answers

You may have to try giving lots of things to lick. Make some of them tastes OK, and some yucky (vanilla, hot sauce, lemons) If she won't leave her shoes alone put slipper socks on her. I would give her as many items to lick as you can find. Try to spend some positive time with her every day (reading, or playing with toys, etc) and when she licks, take some of this time away. I know that this is difficult, but try to stay neutral. That she may be feeding off of negative attention, so ignore what you can!!!

It must be the age. Im in the same boat. My three year old licked the doctors office wall! my other daughter at the same age licked the glass door of the ice bag storage at walmart!! She out grew it im sure this one will too. All we can do is try to explain to them about yucky germs.

Are you totally freaking out with loud noises and such when she licks something gross? Children like to have any attention positive or negative. If you are calm and just take her away from it or take it and put it away.

I like the idea of pre approved items my boys like to lick me because it grosses me out and I really get loud. oh it takes a lot to use that poker face. I adopted a counter defence, if they licked me I would wipe their tongue with a soapy rag.

At my preschool, when we have a child who bites. We tell them there are things you may bite and things you may not. We offer them a rubber nuke toothbrush, a cold wash cloth or a teether etc. It takes some time and reinforcement, but it really has helped on many occasions!
Where I am headed is here...perhaps there are some items you can find that are acceptable to put in her mouth. I don't know, whatever you think is appropriate. Then when she has an urge to lick, remind her to use one of the "pre-approved" items. She may just have a need for extra oral stimulation. If so, it doesn't last long.

My daughter has sensory issues and we dealt with licking and sucking A LOT. We gave her an appropriate item to lick or suck on. She needed the oral stimulation so she has a vibrating toothbrush and a vibrating baby teether she uses when she feels the need. At first I felt kind of silly giving a teether to a toddler, but it worked. When I caught her licking or sucking, I gave her her "toy" and she's good to go. We put it on a necklace so she can have it anywhere she goes. This is an extreme case though, I'm not sure if your child is just doing it to get your reaction because she got it the first time or if she really needs that stimulation. Have things ready for her and don't punish her. She'll either be redirected to appropriate items to do this to, or she'll get bored that you're not making it a big deal and stop. My daughter's foster mom (before we got her) designated a small blanket for her to suck on and now we're having a hard time breaking her of sucking on her regular sheets, blanket, and pillow because of this. Make sure it's something she won't get confused about later.

Hi C.,
I know somebody that their kids did this. (they were eating sandwiches on my porch and mayo dripped out from the sandwich and they both fought over who was gonna lick it off the concrete.) You could ignore the behavior but I don't know that that would do any good. So the other thing you might do is take away her favorite things movies, stuffed animals. No matter what age kids are they have currency such as movies, play dates, toys things like this.
The other thing you could try is timeout. When my kids are doing something wrong I always think what punishment would fit the crime but how do you punish a child for licking things.
Another lady ( it was on a post for talking back her name is Cori b maybe you could send her a message and see what she says. Its on the talking back issue, Jennifer m is who posted it on 3/17) on here said she gives he child(ren) mouth timeouts meaning they can't speak for a certain amount of time. Maybe you could do the same when she does lick something she has to sit and not speak for 4 minutes. I'm kind of at a loss for you but hopefully I gave you some ideas. W.

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