My child chews on everything!

My child chews on EVERYTHING!

Q: My 4 year old daughter chews on everything! Clothes, pencils, toys, books. Everything! How can I get her to stop?

A: I’m not sure you can get her to stop chewing. She clearly needs to chew and chewing actually helps the brain function more successfully. What you should focus on is helping her find appropriate things on which she may safely and appropriately chew.

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Sugarless gum is a great option for your daughter if she is able to chew it without choking and she can remember the secret of gum.

Another option is a “chewy necklace”. You can easily find one online, but a more economical idea is to make a “chewy necklace”. Purchase a couple of beaded teething rings. Cut the beads off of the teething strand and restring into a necklace. Make sure the necklace easily fits over your child’s head and the chewy beads can comfortably reach your daughter’s mouth. This “chew necklace” can be tucked under a shirt when not needed and run through the dishwasher each night.

Chewing is important for brain development, but make sure what is chewed is safe and appropriate.


photo credit: TreglownWills via photopin cc

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4 activities to improve pencil grip

4 activities to improve pencil grip Holding a pencil correctly is important, but not a skills that comes naturally to all children. Children are not born knowing how to hold a pencil correctly. This is a skill they must develop- over time. And an early step in the process is developing the muscles needed to hold a pencil correctly. Below are 4 easy to implement steps to help your young child develop stronger pencil gripping muscles:

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1. Play with clay and dough– kneading, squeezing, rolling, and pinching clay or dough is a great work out for little hands.

2. Dig! Dig in the sand. Dig in the garden. Dig in a rice tub. Dig marbles out of play dough. Just dig!

3. Use chopsticks and tongs. Eat meals with chopsticks. (When my children were young we established one supper a week that was a chopsticks only meal.) Use tongs for serving or moving items from one bowl to another.

4. Wash hands with bar soap. We are a liquid soap culture and most children never use bar soap. The twirling of the soap in small hands requires the same muscles needed to hold a pencil correctly. And washing hands is important too!

Correct pencil grip cannot happen unless the muscles in the hand are developed enough to comply. Help your child develop those muscles!


Side note: Those pencil “grippers” which can be placed on pencils to help with finger placement do no good if the muscles are not developed. Usually they end up being chew toys!


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photo credit: Matteo Bagnoli via photopin cc

Help for Overtaking Perfume


Q: My middle school aged daughter is starting to wear perfume. I get that she wants to express herself, but her perfume is awful smelling and she sprays it everywhere! Our whole house is being overtaken by cheap perfume! Help!

A: You are absolutely correct- wearing perfume is a form of self expression. But you are also correct- perfume can overtake a house in no time. When my daughter experimented with wearing perfume the whole family went with her pick out the scent. Each of us blindly smelled a series of scents and selected our favorite and that was the one she purchased. (Luckily we all picked the same scent.)

With perfume quality and quantity are key.

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Quality: Cheap often times smells, well, cheap. This may mean that you daughter will need to purchase a more expensive brand that may be out of her budget. Perhaps you could purchase the first round or offer to “go halvesies” (split the cost).

Quantity: Avoid the spray! Spray perfume leads to overspray, overuse, and overwhelm. Instead look for a perfume that comes in a roll on style.

We have found Pacifica brand perfumes to meet the quality and quantity criteria, but I’m sure there are more out there. Let me know what you find!


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Hide and Seek best for older children

hiding child If you read my earlier post about why playing chase with a young child is not a good idea then it will come as no surprise to learn I am not a fan of playing Hide and Seek with young children. (If you haven’t read the Chase post then click here.) Hide and Seek is another parent favorite, which can lead to unsafe situations.

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I had a preschool student who was not at all a “trouble making” child. He was a pleasant rule following student (he still is). One day at dismissal, after he was under his mother’s supervision, he put his Hide and Seek skills to a scary test. His mother agreed to a few extra minutes on the playground and after all of my students were with their parents I headed into the building for a meeting. While his mother was visiting with another parent my rule following student disappeared. He practically vanished. You can imagine the panic his mother felt (I feel a tightness in my chest just remembering). She began frantically searching for her child. Every parent and teacher in the building got involved in the search. Parents manned all exits, searched the parking lot, and classrooms. His mother and I found the child hiding in an empty classroom, tucked on a bookshelf. “Hey, you found me! Your turn.” he squealed.

While we were on red alert he was playing a game: Hide and Seek.

He was not trying to scare all the adults around nor was he trying to be difficult. He was innocently playing a game. But Hide and Seek is a game that involves hiding from an adult. A young child is not able to always determine when such a game is appropriate which can lead to a safety issue. Better to save this type of game for older children.

photo credit

Chewing gum helps the brain

chewing gum helps the brain

Q: Should I let my 5 year old chew gum?

A: If your child is able to master the art of chewing gum without swallowing (and potentially choking on it) then chew away!

Chewing works the jaw, which stimulates the brain. What?! Yes, chewing (during a time of concentration) causes the left and the right sides of the brain to work together. Think about applying mascara. What do you do with your jaw while you are concentrating? Exactly!

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When my children began chewing gum (sugarless) I told them there was a secret to chewing gum. “No one should see or hear the gum once it is in your mouth. It should be a secret.” And they took that as law. (Once when they heard someone chomping on their gum they told me, “I guess they don’t know the secret of gum.” Apparently not!)

If your child is able to chew gum safely and politely them grab some sugarless gum and get the left and right brain working together!

Side note: Ever seen someone who works with his tongue hanging out (my wonderful father in law)? It is more than habit. It is helping the left and right brain work together.

photo credit: gail m tang via photopin cc

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