Odd Toddler Behaviors

Updated on February 15, 2012
L.S. asks from Clarkston, MI
10 answers

My 27 month old son will grab his neck at times. Not to inflict pain but to soothe himself (I hope) He pushes his two index fingers together on a roll of skin on his neck. He does this when it seems that he is feeling tired, uncomfortable, unsure of the situation and/or whenever he feels like it. He's never had an attachment toy, pacifier or sucked his thumb. Last summer he would rub the skin around his belly button. We were able to stop that behavior by putting on a onesie. This behavior is odd, and in public is looks a little strange. The big problem is as of late, he has been putting other objects (toy cars, books, legos) to his neck with a free hand pushing on the skin roll and the object on the other side. Please let me know if any of you have experienced this type of behavior with your toddler and what you did to modify it.. What if he grabs something sharp and jams it into his neck for comfort (not that I let him around sharp objects) but you just never know.

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answers from Austin on

Kids do all sorts of things to self sooth. I think it is fine.. at least he does not have his hands in his pants the whole time like lots of boy and girl toddlers..

It may change as he gets older.. to something else. You are lucky he is not depending on you to sooth him..

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answers from Stockton on

He's just soothing himself. Nice that he's able to do that. My daughter used to stroke my hair between her index finger and thumb, I had a little broken section from her doing it so much. My son would play with his ear. Not sure why you feel the need to stop it?

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answers from Detroit on

Is he 2 months or 2 years?

My cousin has 4 sons, now all grown. When they were little, 1 of them liked to rub Dad's ear lobe for comfort. Another of them liked to roll the veins on the back of Dad's hand. So I guess as odd as it is, it could still be within the realm of "normal" as far as self-soothing behaviors go.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My son used to smell my hair to soothe himself to go to sleep. Now he wants to smell the sheet or blanket when he goes to sleep. He was never one to suck on a pacifier either. I would not freak out too much. Just keep your eye on him. I am sure he will outgrow it. May be see if there is a stufffed animal or blanket he may like so he diverts his attention.

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answers from Denver on

If he's not hurting himself, I agree - it's just a soothing behavior. If you try to stop him, I think you'll do more harm then good. At this age, if he grabs something too sharp, he'll learn it hurts and stop. Eventually he'll outgrow it and/or find another way to soothe himself. My 4 year old still puts her hand down the front of her shirt and rubs her chest - she's done it since birth when she's tired (or nursing when a baby). She does it now only when tired and I think they all find ways to soothe themselves.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Portland on

Does he have a lovey? Try offering him one everytime he needs to soothe himself... my son's lovey is an ugly doll and he runs his fingers up and down "Blue's" ear.

I think your son is fine to be doing what he needs to do to comfort himself, but I completely understand your concerns about safety and it looking a little odd.

Try replacing it with something: a lovey, a child I know flicked her fingernails, think of something and offer that everytime he needs soothing. I wouldn't try to stop him because it might be more distressing.


answers from Houston on

Sounds like a self-soothing technique for him. My sons did the belly button rubbing too, it was a step up from the hands down the pants thing.

They never had a lovey at that age, but now that they are 3 and 5, they love thees teddy bears they have and always get them when they are tired/sick/sleepy.

Maybe when he does that, introduce a softer little blanket or stuffed toy, so he can use something more comfortable.



answers from Phoenix on

My son is 2 and 1/2 and does the same thing but he wants to pinch or roll someone else's skin. When he is sleepy or cuddly mostly. And even if he falls asleep next to me and I move he will still look for my arm to pinch and reach for it in his sleep. I don't know what to do. We have tried everything and nothing works. We have accepted it and hope he will grow out of it.



answers from Columbus on

If you are worried that this is a sensory issue, it sounds more like a soothing behavior to me. If you have other sensory seeking behaviors that pop up, or that you worry about, then this might be something to worry about, but it just sounds like this is his "lovey." I would be glad that he has a way to soothe.


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