How can I stop my daughter from biting her cheeks?
by mikaleen, Jun 05, 2009
My 4 year old bites the insides of her cheeks until she's bleeding.  It must hurt but she just won't stop, and I don't know how to get her to stop.  I have the habit also, ever since I was young, but if I make it bleed it's an accident.  She does it on purpose so she can see the blood.  Any suggestions?
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Member Comments (6)
by megmil, Jun 05, 2009
I am 24 and still bite my cheeks and yes I will do it until they bleed. I don't know what got it started but I've never been able to stop. I do it more when I'm uncomfortable, nervous, scared, etc. I'm not sure there is anything you can do but maybe someone might have a suggestion.
by Diane1003, Jun 05, 2009
How do you react when she's doing it?  My son always seems to laugh when I say, "Oh, no -icky" when he puts the dog toy in his mouth and it becomes a game...  I wish I knew some kind of behavior mod tricks that would work.  My son grinds his teeth... It's like nails on a chalkboard to me - makes my skin crawl! I can't figure out how to get him to stop doing that!
by lipp06, Jun 05, 2009
might sound a lil mean but when i was young my grandmother got me to stop by saying id put a hole threw my cheak and have to get stitches....shes prolly to young to understand but it worked with me.
by GRose, Jun 05, 2009
I didn't realize how common that habit was, I do that all the time lol. I dont think I have ever made myself bleed though.
by mikaleen, Jun 06, 2009
I was flipping through channels today, and there was a baby boy who kept biting his lip, and one night he bit completely through his bottom lip  His front 4 teeth were taken out, and my daughter asked if she would have to have her teeth taken out if she kept biting herself.  I felt mean saying it, but I told her that I would never want her to hurt herself so we would have to talk about it if she couldn't stop hurting herself.  I am trying to pay attention and catch her when she's doing it so I can distract her, but it's hard to notice.
by AnnieBrooke, Jun 06, 2009
Sucking the thumb, biting the cheek, biting the nails, etc. are all anxiety-reduction rituals, and so it kind of follows that addressing anxieties will help reduce the need for the ritual.  Maybe you could tell her that if you two are around each other at a time when she realizes she is biting her cheek, she could come to you and you'd give her a big, special hug so she'd feel really good.  (This also is nice because it shows you are not judging her habit but are totally on her side in every way.)  Obviously this is not a full answer, but it might help her learn to break the most destructive part of the pattern (the biting until she bleeds part).  You might also get a none-too-pleasant tasting mouthwash like original Listerine (funny, I just recommended it for a totally different purpose on another thread) and tell her that any time she realizes she has made herself bleed, she needs to go in the bathroom and rinse with it and spit it out.  The combination of the reassurance (hug from you entirely available when she asks) and the rinsing with something not dangerous but not pleasant either (that will incidentally clean out her cut) might be enough to help her be more conscious of the habit, so she can change it.  And of course, praise her for being aware enough of it to do those two things.  Part of the problem with cheek-biting it its automatic nature.  The more conscious she is of it, the more control she will have over it.