Need Help Concerning My 4 Year Old

Updated on April 29, 2010
S.B. asks from Waco, TX
8 answers

My son is picking at his lip and making it bleed BAD and he is tearing up his lip so bad I have tried everything if anyone has some info on how to make him stop please let us know we will be so grateful thanks in advance!

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answers from Austin on

Hi, I just wanted to say that I have had this nervous habit ever since the first grade. My mother says she can always tell when I'm stressed because my lips are bleeding. It definitely helps to keep them from getting chapped in the first place, but you might also see if there is any thing that is stressing him out. For me, it all started with a very stressful first grade teacher. Now any time I am worried about anything I start picking or biting at my lips. I doubt he is even aware he is doing it until it starts to bleed. That's how I am.
Good luck.

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answers from Dallas on

Oh my! I thought for certain my son was the only 4 year old that did this. What I have attempted to do is keep it moist so that it doesn't flake over and make him want to peel it even more. It's irritating to them as it would be you. He started this when he had a cold and fever and developed these chapped lips. I would tell him that it's nasty or it scares me when he does it and it turned into a game to him. He tries to scare me with it. One day when he did it, I changed the subject. "Look, mom!" he said after pulling some skin off his lip and holding it in the air . "Yes, I see it" "Is that a new Wubbzy show?" . Remarkably, it has worked. Without emphasizing it or putting to much importance on it seems to have taken his thoughts away from it. I still check him daily and when he's asleep, I put Carmex or Vaseline on it. It's healing and I'm not as worried. I too would welcome any thoughts anyone had on this. I love my pediatrician. He is a very logicial person and when I asked if this could be some deep rooted physcological issue, he simply said "Yes, it could be" or "It could be that he just likes picking his chapped lips". "Or it could be that he's irritated with the dryness and wants to get rid of it." Don't overthink it.

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answers from Honolulu on

Sometimes, things like this are a habit like nail biting or maybe self-mutilation... and/or it can be related to stress or anxiety etc.

have you asked the Pediatrician?
A cut/sore that is picked on continuously without healing, can lead to infections etc., and or abscesses.
I'm sure it must hurt????

Since he is 4, ... have you asked him why he does that?
And maybe just have the Doctor explain to him that if he keeps picking his wound... it will lead to more serious problems... maybe scarring or disfigured lips etc.....

good luck,



answers from Jacksonville on

Put some vaseline on his lips for moisture and so it can soothe it/heal it. That might prevent the scabbing and/or the dryness if that's what he has and ultimately prevent him from picking at it



answers from Austin on

You don't mention how long he's been doing this but have you considered anxiety? My son went through this. He's 5 now and it isn't so much a problem. However, I still catch him chewing on random things from time to time. He would chew his shirt so badly that it would be soaked and sometimes holes would appear. At the time, I couldn't figure it out. He had started school and we had a baby (should be so clear that this is what was causing his anxiety). However, it wasn't for me at the time. He seemed so excited about the new baby and loved her to pieces. Anyway, my son was in Occupational Therapy, for something unrelated, and I have learned some techniques. Gum is one. Whenever you catch him doing it, do not bring attention to the fact he is picking at his lip, it will only create more anxiety because he knows he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing. Instead, just offer him a piece of gum or really chewy candy (like a Now and Later). Chewing is very calming (think about it, adults often chew on pencils when they are stressed). Basically, you are giving him something more appropriate to do other than picking at his lip . It's a natural defense. If you find that it is happening more at certain times or certain places, have him drink yogurt or Jello through a straw (or a thick smoothie or shake). It's hard to suck out, and again, calming. Another technique is to trick him into taking deep breaths and distracting him. Ex: you catch him picking and you might start breathing in deeply and say, "Do you smell that?!!!" Get him to take deep breaths to try to smell. My son would always say, "NO! What do you smell? I don't smell anything." Unfortunately, I just lie. "....oh, I thought I smelled chocolate." :) Lastly, like others have posted, it can't hurt to buy a bunch of fun chapsticks. Keep them everywhere. In your purse, his pocket, the car, his nightstand, etc. He'll be less likely to pick if his lips are nice and moist. Plenty of fluids too, of course. However, even if he stops picking his lips, if it is anxiety related, he'll just start doing something else. Kids will suffer from anxiety from time to time and what we need to do is try and teach them ways to cope with it. All of these examples are a type of oral exercise but even regular exercise is calming. If you have an indoor trampoline, when you catch him, play a game. "how many jumps can you count up to on your trampoline." Or, any type of physical exercise. We will build obstacle courses indoors, wheel barrow races (with me holding his legs), have him push my heavy laundry basket into the laundry room, wear a heavy backpack, etc, jumping up and down on the floor 30 times. Get creative. The exercise can be something really simple. It is also very calming. I know how ridiculous this all sounds! That's exactly what I thought when my son started Occupational Therapy. However, it works. What you are doing is teach him problem calming skills to use later in life. When he feels stressed, here are easy ways to feel more in control and calm. When I'm stressed, I do some of the same. ...or have a big fat glass of wine. ha-ha. J/K. Good luck; he'll be okay.



answers from San Antonio on

My 3 year old son went through the same thing. Good news is the habit has stopped. It lasted about 6 months. What I believe helped a lot was allowing him to pick out his own chapstick and allowing him to use it whenever he felt like "picking". It really empowered him with having an option instead of picking. I would also suggest the chapstick to him when I would see him begin to pick. Then again, maybe just the weather changed enough to keep his lips from getting so dry. I'm sure it did help.
In our situation I never saw it to be a nervous or stress driven habit. None the less, I was concerned too. It was a physical condition of dry lip that was really aggravating to him. I had a hard time trying not to henpeck him about it, because there were days I had to be creative or I would have been saying "stop picking" over and over and over. I strongly believe in not making a big deal of things (henpecking) because all that adds is unnecessary stress to the child. Good luck.



answers from Milwaukee on

Buy him some flavored lip balm?



answers from Corpus Christi on

My son had a similiar problem but his was on his hand and he is 4 also...I took him to the doctor and he is said that he had a nervous tendensy and was asking what was going on at home..turns out he was disturbed..Any recent things happen --new baby, new school, new anything. I began by telling him that it was not good for him to pick..telling him the green guys would get in his body and make him real sick--AKA the ones on the Musinex commercial worked well...then I put "special medicine and told him the dr wanted it to stay on there and put bandaids and masking tape to keep it secure...poor thing...he was also doing it at night when he slept, so watch out for that. He is expeirencing something that tramatic to him so keep the lines of communication open and talk to him frequently...start small and then get into detail...good luck and pray with him..include that in your prayers and let him know how important it is for him to leave it alone...

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