15 answers

Four Year Old with Hands in Mouth

My son is 4 years old and out of nowhere about a month ago started putting his fingers in his mouth. Every time I look at him they are in his mouth. The Dr. told us to ignore it but that doesn't seem to work and we can't stand it. Anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions? Thanks

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Featured Answers

S.,
If he's been doing this for a month, it's probably a habit now that he doesn't even know when he's doing it. I think I'd start asking him why his fingers are in his mouth when I see it. When he says I don't know, just tell him to take them out then. Try not to let the frustration show even though that will be hard. But I really think that you're dealing with a habit now that will take time and persistance as well patience to change.

best of luck!
M.-wife and mom to 4 girls ages 5 to 10

More Answers

My 4 yr. old daughter does this too. It used to be ALL the time, now it is only once in a great while. I don't make a big deal out of it, I just say "get your hands out of your mouth" and move on with my day once she's removed them. Eventually she gets tired of hearing me say it. I'm trying to break my newly 3 yr. old daughter of thumb sucking right now as well. Progress is slow, but I guess every little bit is closer to the end.. Good luck!

Same problem here. I keep reminding her to take her hands out of her mouth. I did notice the gums behind her molars were kind of taunt and chalked it up to her back molars trying to wiggle their way in. I have yet to see them, but she has pretty much stopped with putting her hands in her mouth.

My 4 yr old daughter does this lately too.. She did it for a while while she was 3 also, and I just kept telling her to keep her hands out of her mouth and eventually she stopped. Now all of a sudden she is doing it again. I'm thinking maybe its a nervous/shy thing for her right now that she'll out grow. But each time she does it I just make sure to firmly tell her to get her hands out of her mouth and explain how "yuckie" it is. She seems to be doing it a bit less now.

S.,
If he's been doing this for a month, it's probably a habit now that he doesn't even know when he's doing it. I think I'd start asking him why his fingers are in his mouth when I see it. When he says I don't know, just tell him to take them out then. Try not to let the frustration show even though that will be hard. But I really think that you're dealing with a habit now that will take time and persistance as well patience to change.

best of luck!
M.-wife and mom to 4 girls ages 5 to 10

Is it spreading ? My almost 4 yr old just out of the blue about a month ago started putting his hands in his mouth and sucking on his fingers... Never before!!!
I havn't done it yet, but I was thinking about getting some of that "no bite" nail polish and putting it on his finger nails... BUT in the interem I just tell him to get his hands out of his mouth and go about my day...

Greetings S.,

Please, what ever you do don't go the hot sauce or tape route.
Our 3yr.old grandson just recently started doing this also.
He doesn't visit often, however when ever we see him put his fingers in his mouth we just tell him, in a mean business kind of tone, to take his fingers out of his mouth. He usually takes them right out.
I believe you get what you expect, so expect that he will stop sucking his fingers soon.
Much success.

With joy, love and peace,
S.

S.,

My 3 year old son just started this habit about 3 weeks ago. He puts his fingers so far back in his mouth until he gags and throws up or he licks his fingers. I know, it's disgusting. I just keep telling him that there are alot of germs on his hands and if he keeps it up, he'll get sick and have to see a doctor. Everytime I catch him while we are home, I insist that he wash his hands thorougly. Eventually, it annoys him to have to keep going into the bathroom, climbing on the stool, and washing his hands. So far, this seems to be slowly breaking the habit. I'm not focusing on this habit too much because then it becomes a situation where he'll keep doing it just to get attention.

I coach a little girl who just started doing this, and she'll be four next month. She's kind of out of her comfort zone while I'm coaching her with other kids (she's usually fine when it's just her and me). I think that has something to do with it. I just tell her I won't hold her hand if she keeps putting it in her mouth. That usually works... sometimes she forgets and puts it back in. I try not to pick too much about it; I don't want her developing a "complex" over it. It's probaby just a phase with your son, too, like the doctor said. I bet he'll quit doing it soon. It seems like my almost three-year-old takes about a month to go through her less-appealing "phases." Good luck.

S.,

I too have a four year old that puts his fingers in his mouth - but he likes to bite his fingernails, yuck! When I catch him with his fingers in his mouth I just remind him to get them out.

As parents we need to be our child's advocate. So we need to teach them what is acceptable behavior which is why I'm extremely surprised that your pediatrician advised you to just ignore it. The way I look at this is I don't want my child teased when he goes to Kindergarten for something that I can help him stop now.

Hang in there. We will both eventually get them to stop. :)

Check his mouth. Maybe he has cold sores that are bothering him. It's early, but maybe he's cutting his 6 yr molars early.

when you notice him doing it maybe try to give him something to chew on.

Wow! Contrary to the previous responder, I definately understand how you feel. It used to drive me crazy too when my youngest son had his fingers in his mouth. It is also not good for their health, germs, etc. I would gently take his hand out of his mouth and remind him how "yucky" that is and warned him that if he did it again he was getting socks put on his hands. He wore socks on his hands many times. They are bad habits that they pick up and they do stop eventually, most times they need help quitting! Good Luck!

Here is an idea to consider . . .

My 4.5 year old daughter started doing this several months ago, usually during times of idleness like when watching TV or trying to go to sleep. I usually just told her to take her hands out of he mouth when I saw it happening, and I've been adamant about her washing her hands very well (with a nail brush, too) after she uses the toilet or if I see her touching her private areas (yea, she was doing that around the same time, too.)

My homeopath suggested that she probably had pinworms . . . hands in the mouth are a symptom of that, as is excessive fondling or scratching in the vaginal and anal areas. We have a dog and my daughter spends a lot of time around other kids, too. The homeopath said that these are places where kids can pick up the worms. They are actually fairly common, most parents don't ever realize that their kids have them. You could do your own examination to find out if you son has them . . . just send me a message and I can tell you how. Or you can search online for the info.

There are OTC remedies at the drugstore or online for pinworms and there is a homeopathic remedy as well that I can tell you about (I don't sell it.) If you need any further info, just let me know. If you treat your son for pinworms, you'll have to treat everyone in the household, as well.

The Ped probably said to ignore it because its no big health concern. Its probably a security thing, so if you choose to intrude on the self soothing, try to satisfy it another way. I would be careful not to voice the concern for being teased in K or looking bad to others. Stick to germ concerns or other less personal things.

I honestly don't see a major issue. I've seen 12 year olds sucking thumbs.

You could try imitating him and obviously he won't be able to understand you talk to him with your fingers in your mouth and maybe that will click. Explain to him that if he doesn't talk to you normally without his fingers propped in his mouth, you won't hear what he has to say. If he wants your attention, fingers come out.

OR you could just get over it. There's a lot of things that rub parents the wrong way. It's part of the package, S.. You chose to become a parent and therefore you take on all the headaches, imperfections, habits, etc. They do outgrow some of these things, trust me. It could be a lot worse.

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