My son has a problem with chewing on his clothes. He has had it since he was around two. He is now six and it is a hard habbit to break. My husband and I have a pretty stable environment for our children. We try to make life as stress free for our children as possible. My son however, has some of the symptoms yours does. When he was two, he was involved with speech and language therapists as well as occupational therapists. Does the child have any sensory issues? Is he aggressive? Does he like rough play or maybe even like to hurt himself, such as running full force into walls or even lying under couch cushion and so forth? My son was diagnosed with a deep pressure disorder, I forget what it is called. It was so long ago. He like to feel pressure deep in his joints. He gets aggressive when he feels worked up and he often chews on his shirts. At the time, all of this started, his therapist suggested tying a rubber hose to a string and allowing him to carry it around with him. I wasn't too keen on the idea of my son carrying around a "chew toy." I did however learn to watch for warning signs. Times when he would get figgity, or restless. I would sit him down in front of me and give him a firm but gentle back massage. The deep pressure releases the feeling of nervousness. I also learned, from the occupational therapist, to do joint compression therapy. Then there are the times, when we are at home, I will allow him to chew on a wet wash cloth. Like I said, he is six now, and he no longer sees a therapist. He can let me know when he is starting to feel worked up and I try my hardest to relieve any kind of restlessness he might feel. Don't get me wrong, we have our days, but a lot of these tricks work. There are a number of things that can cause these symtoms, and stress is definately one of them. This deep pressure thing may just be something to look into. Good luck!!!
The turmoil this little boy has been undergoing is certainly having an impact on him. You are seeing the influence by way of the changes in his behavior. His world is constantly being turned upside down. More than anything else, he needs constancy, stability, a regular and structured routine. The chewing behavior is very likely a symptom of the stress that has been induced by all he has been through and continues to go through. It's no wonder he is displaying efforts to manage his environment; it must seem pretty out of control from his point of view, so he's latching on to areas that he can influence. Offering him stability is the most important thing you can do for him. Relative to what occurs in the home of his mother, that is not your prerogative to manage. However, if there is a good relationship between the boy's parents, these matters can be discussed and mutual plans developed. If there is acrimony in the relationship between the parents, achieving change will be a challenge.