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constant chewing of shirt sleeve
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constant chewing of shirt sleeve

HI, My fiance has a boy, just turned 8. His father was killed in a car accident 6yrs ago. He has had behavioral problems such as excessive aggression, just out of the blue. We have been able to minimize that however he has begun chewing on his shirt cuff constantly. He seems to have a fixation on chewing cloth. Whether it is a pillow cover or more often his shirt cuff and sleeve. To the point of deterioration of the shirt. This of course causes us great concern.

He also has trouble controlling his temper at certain times. More then just an average child. He can go into uncontrollable rage. His mother is, at times unable to physically stop him or "snap" him out of it. At other times he is the sweetest kid in the world. There are times, it seems, for no reason, he will lash out and hit his younger brother and seems as though when caught there is no remorse.

I am sure I am not filling you in enough but if you can give me a general idea as to the reason for the chewing and what we can do to stop that behavior we would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks

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Most children who do this have developed a habit pattern that serves the purpose of soothing them or relieving tension. The tension-reduction aspect of the behavior is what serves as a reinforcement; they keep doing it because it heps them feel better (not that they think of it this way - it's an automatic behavior). Apart from the fact that the behavior probably results in some damage to his clothing, it does not really get in anyone else's way. His aggression, on the other hand, is more of a problem and invites the need for an evaluation. Arrange an evaluation with a child psychologist or other pediatric menatl health professinal. At the very least, the clinician can help you with a plan for managing the behavior. But he may require some treatment. Is there a family history of mood disorder (depresssion, bipolar disorder) or anxiety disorder? If so, he would be at-risk to display such a condition.
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My son also used to chew his shirts (and couch pillows while watching TV).  None of his shirts were without holes, for probably a couple years, and probably started when he was about 8 yrs old.  I'd even buy him new shirts on the condition that he'd not chew them, and he assured me that he would keep them hole-free...but ultimately would/could not.  He is now 12 years old and seems to have simply outgrown this habit.  As the doc said, it is not hurting anyone; although it might be embarrassing what the teachers and others might think -- rest assured, he should grow out of it!  

My son's father also died unexpectedly, when he was 9 yrs. old, and I try not to make an issue out of anything that is not an issue...but always pay attention to those behaviors that might actually be a problem -- like the aggression.  
Kids are resilient, but not unbreakable!  
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My son chewed his shirt at that age too.  I was concerned about it and talked to his teacher.  She said a lot of kids chew their shirts.  She wasn't sure if it is because they are about to get their front teeth or for some developmental emotional reason.  She said that my son wasn't that bad, other kids actually chew holes in their clothes.  After my conversation with the teacher, I never mentioned it to my son again and it went away just as fast as it appeared one day.  Now my second son is at that age.  Guess what?  He's chewing his shirt every day now.  I don't say a word about it.
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My daughter used to chew on her long sleeves.  She has stopped doing that, but now chews on her bath towel.  I do think it is a habit that is formed because it comforts them somehow.  I can always tell her towel from her sister's because one of the corners is chewed into this little strip.  I would compare this behavior to a child sucking his thumb.
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i have seen (as a teacher) children chew/suck on their sleeves, hair, pencils and so on. it's an oral fixation and "sigmund freud" would have a field day with this one! LOL!
it does seem to be comforting and something they will outgrow. i know as a kid i sucked my thumb forever and when i was aware that it wasnt socially acceptable, i sucked my sleeves and constantly smelled my "blankie". i didn't create any holes or anything but ya know, i stopped because the wetness was so uncomfortable on my sleeves.
i know some of these children are young but what about chewing gum to divert their attention away from chewing on shirt sleeves? i know it's not always possible to have gum (such as in school) but it may help at other times?
best of luck..i'm sure the behavior will cease and try not to make an issue out of it in front of them.
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My son also did this in preschool whenever he was put on the spot for something.  One time there was an all school performance & all he did while standing in front of an audience is chew on his sleeves & then eventually he chewed his sleeves continually in the classroom.  I aggree, it's a stress/tension reliever and eventually they overcome it.
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Avatar_f_tn
Add me to the list of mom's who have seen their kids do this!!
For my daughter, it is the neckline of her shirt.  She pulls it up to her mouth and walks around with a constant wet spot on the front of her shirt, and it gets all stretched out...
Of course, I told her to quit, until I realized she isn't even aware that she's doing it.  It must be some way of managing stress.  

My solution?  I bought her shirts at the Thrift store!!  Sanitized them, and now she has brand name clothes that cost me $1!!  

All kidding aside, I couldn't care about the shirts---I just know that this is something she'll outgrown.  Eventually, she'll manage stress in other ways, that I'm sure will be equally as troubling!!
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My son, now 7, has been doing this for maybe 3 yrs. now --- sucking  his neckline of his shirts mostly, but sometimes his sleeve.  It's always to relieve stress or comfort in some way.  I will find him 1/2 naked and then ask why, to which he now simply replies "I sucked my shirt".  Funny I am reading htis tonight, I just found him with his pajama shirt off in bed because he sucked his shirt (after being told very sternly for the 3rd time to get back in bed) and it was cold and wet and the neck was all stretched out.  Tonight I told him that I have decided when he does this he is now going to wear it wet.  Maybe the uncomfortable feeling will make him stop??  Oh well, otherwise if it makes him feel better it's really no big deal other than the fact that he can rip, stretch and ruin much clothing!!
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I am a first grade teacher and I have a student who chews anything he can get his hands on....his shirt, jacket, and especially pencils.  He chews them to the point that they are dangerous with pieces of metal dangling from the edge.  This child is also very hyperactive.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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The only statement I can make towards what you have written is that co-incidentally my son is SEVERLY ADHD ... but on meds (against my initial wants) Maybe they are releasing energy at times when they need to surpress it, like in class or at bedtime?? Maybe we'll both get answers h ere??
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Avatar_f_tn
My 4 year old daughter sucks on the necks of her shirts sometimes.  She then wants to take the shirt off, but I make her wear it to minimize the behavior.  It has worked as she hasn't sucked on her shirt in a while.  I used to bite my nails till they were bloody when I was a kid - guess it's sort of the same thing, like a soothing behavior or tension-reliever.
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This saddens me. My grandson just turned eight. At seven, he would only suck on his sleeve when his mother would be in the hospital. And why was she there? Her boyfriend broke up with her. She'd tell her son "I'm dying" and/or "if I die from this go live with nana." She'd be in the ER and they'd give her a valium.
She never considered what this behavior was doing to her son.
She wanted him to "fix it" and take care of her. Needless to say, this 40 year old woman has mental problems. Her father was sure she'd outgrown them but she is much worse now than ever.
I hope her son asks us to come and pick him up. He's already stayed with us for a month recently. I am sixty two and it isn't easy, believe me. Not with that school bus down there at 7am.
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A related discussion, chewing on clothes was started.
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A related discussion, how to stop chewing shirt was started.
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A related discussion, Why does my son chew on his shirt sleeve? was started.
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My friend who is an adult would cut up socks only white ones and chew them like gum she has been doin it for years isn't that dangerous? What's it called?  Doesn't she need help????
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