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7 year old licking hands/fingers
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7 year old licking hands/fingers

My seven year old has been licking his hands/ fingers for several weeks.  It appears to be very compulsive with a lack of awareness on his part.  He has had several bouts of compulsive behavior in the past (frequent urinating, washing hands, smelling hands) that have all been directly related to a change in his life and eventually subsided when life settled down.  This one (licking) seems to be lasting longer and becoming more frequent.  It is interesting that he does not show any other anxious symptoms at this time.  He loves school, appears confident and comfortable, is athletic and social.  He can not identify anything he is concerned about and says that he tries not to do it, but can not control the urge.  HELP?
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Avatar_f_tn
Sounds like anxiety to me.  Anxiety is not the same as being anxious.  Anxiety is a response to a perceived threat or danger - an abnormal state characterized by a feeling of being powerless and unable to cope with threatening events, (usually imaginary), and by a physical response, as sweating, trembling, etc. (or licking in your son's case).  Many suffering from anxiety are not aware of their perceived threats and many are unable to control their urges without help.  Have you considered OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder which is one of the anxiety issues.  I might suggest you google this term and see if the description is similar to that of your son.  Do you have a pediatrician who might be able to guide you?  Anxiety disorders are highly treatable but, if this is the case with your son, he will not outgrow it nor will it go away.  Hope this helps ....
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a son who periodically does things like this.  He is 9 now, but I first noticed it in Kindergarten when he started clearing his throat all the time.  My husband and I thought he was getting a cold, but he contined to do it.  We would give him something to drink thinking that would help, but we figured out this had to be a nervous habit - for whatever reason.  We did tell him it was very noticeable, and explained if he kept doing it would become a habit he wouldn't be able to stop.  He did eventually stop, and some time later he began smelling his fingers.  This was also very obvious, and my husband and I asked him why he was doing this - he said he wanted to make sure his fingers didn't smell bad.  We decided to gently remind him to not do it each time we saw him do it, and eventually he stopped.  Then in 2nd grade he began periodically scratching his head - at first I thought he just had an itchy scalp and had him wash with dandruff shampoo, but he kept doing it.  Most of the time it was when he was doing his guided reading homework.  I would thoroughly check his head to make sure it wasn't lice but I could find nothing.   He did eventually stop that, with my gentle prompting.  But I think some children do these kind of things when they're nervous about something.  Just look at how many kids bite their nails, and if you visit a 3rd grade classroom you'll see many children who have bite marks all over their pencils.  My son doesn't bite his pencil or his nails, he just has other habits that show up occasionally.  I wouldn't worry - sometimes I think we overanalyze things, and by doing this we might give our kids some kind of complex.  Good luck.  What we've done has seemed to work well for us.
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Avatar_m_tn
My son does the exact same thing as well as suck the collar of his shirt leaving wet marks where everyone can see and my son is 12yrs old. This seems compulsive as we keep telling him to stop but it seems he cant. This is very embarassing, not only for us as parents but other kids notice him doing it also. Need help and not sure what to do.
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Avatar_f_tn
My son is 7 and also has gone through many phases of odd behavior.  First was licking his hand and sucking his shirt.  Then he was having arm twitches and it looked like he was throwing air punches.  He eventually stopped that and started making throat clearing noises.  From there, he started licking everything in sight, and now he has to touch the ground with both hands every couple minutes.  It's very hard to ignore the behavior but it seems to go away after a few weeks and then a new behavior starts.  Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
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