Object-Biting Habit

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have a 7-year-old boy who has a habit of biting on pencils, shirt collars, hair, his baseball glove, and so forth. He has no speech problems. Others are noticing it and commenting. The boy is not aware of it and says it “tastes good.” What do you think? There does not seem to be a heightened anxiety or fatigue factor. In light of your oral motor practice, what program should be followed?

If a client like this came to me with this problem, and he did not have a speech problem, I would refer the family to a counselor. Many children have noxious habits that need to be reduced or eliminated. In my mind, this is not an oral motor deficit. It is more akin to a problem like thumb sucking or smoking.

If I were assigned to be the one to handle this biting and chewing problem, I would follow the advice I give in my book How to Stop Thumbsucking. That book is written for therapists and parents. It gives the overall process of identifying the habit, setting goals, facing obstacles, planning the treatment, involving the child, activities, how to talk with the child, and so forth.

For more information, search the Internet under “chewing habits.” There is research in this area, and one can read abstracts of research without having to purchase subscriptions to the psychological journals in which these articles are published.

Leave a comment!

Keep the conversation going! Your email address will not be published.