9 answers

7 Year Old Chewing on His Shirt Sleeve and Collar

My second grader, at 7, seems to have developed an intense nervous habit of chewing on his sleeve, or if I try to send him out in short sleeves, he chews on his collar. It gets so intense throughout the day that he will come home and his sleeve will be wet up to his elbow. I've thought about putting something on it that tastes bad (like the stuff they make to help people who bite their nails). He had done this in kindergarten, but had stoppted, and now it is back. My husband is out of town for a couple of weeks but this had started before he left, and my work situation changed recently which makes me a little more available to my son but much more stressed than usual, which I realize could have an impact. Oh my goodness, as I write this I realize it started again just after our nephew, now 22, moved back to Brazil--he had lived with us since 2000, and had basically been a brother to our son, although he had been away at college for the past two years so not around as much... Thanks for any help

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2 of my 5 kids did that. He'll stop.

Hahah....I didnt read the whole thing but i giggle when i read the titled. I just got over this with my son. for what seemed like forever. My son is 7 now. I just had to constantly remind him that he was doing it and tell him to stop. I also kept explaining that it ruined his clothes and clothes werent cheap. If he kept doing it he would have to wear no clothes. I dont know any tricks though. but it lasted about 5-6 anoying months.

Although it sounds more extreme than I've experienced, shirt chewing happened a lot in my son's second grade class. I don't know if it's new teeth coming in or what, but that was the one year that lots of us parents noticed it among our boys. Now that he's in 4th grade, it's completely done. It's important to help your son deal with whatever crises he's got, but the sleeve chewing itself may not be totally unusual.

I would follow Diane's advice. When my son was around 7 he used to chew on his collar and would come home soaking wet. He did ruin a few shirts. I didn't make a big deal of it and it stopped within the year. Good luck!

OMG!! I thought I was the only one that went thru this! Both my sons did this and I simply would show them the shirt afterward and say "no new shirt till I see you are taking care of this one" sooo, I would go to the store, he would see a shirt he liked and I would say, "oh, sorry no new shirt till I see you are taking care of the ones you have!" Or I would catch them in action chewing on the shirt and remind them that it was not acceptable and they were too old for that behavior. It lasted for a little under a year and then stopped.

Thanks so much. Our son sucked on his fingers at the beginning of first grade and now has started the chewing on his sleeves. It worries me and I wasn't sure how to deal with it. Hopefully, it stops soon and I am glad to hear that it is pretty normal.

My son used to do this too and has come home with holes in his clothes from his chewing! I think you hit the nail right on the head...it's definitely stress related, most likely due to the combination of things you mentioned, especially your nephew leaving. I would try talking to him and reassuring him that everything is O.K. Find out if something is bothering him at school and maybe talk to his teacher. I think it becomes a habit so it may take a little time to break. A visit with a counselor is always a good idea too. Kids stress about things we can never imagine and counselors are great at bringing that out in the open and then teaching your child healthy ways to cope. Good luck!

Tow of my kids at that age chewed their sleeves and it drove me crazy! But it stopped, on its own. I used to help out in my son's first grade class and half the kids were chewing on their sleeves or collars. But it stopped. Don't worry. I think it is just something they do . . .

Hi there! Check with your son's school. I know at my son's school the occupational therapists have tools to help kids with this problem. Both my 5 yr old and my 3 yr old chew on their sleeves a lot. (my 3 year old will put almost anything in his mouth) They recently suggested to me a necklace (string or rope so it's not "jewelry" for boys) with a rubber tube they string through it so that the kids can chew on that instead of their clothes. It saves their clothes while still offering them something safer to chew on...

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