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How normal is this for a nine year old - chewing thumbs?

(10 Posts)
rainbowinthesky Mon 22-Oct-12 06:55:47

Hi
Dd is 9 and always been a bit of a worrier. She has been biting her nails for a while now and the skin around them but they've always looked fine - not short,short and not sore at all.
However I have noticed that her thumbs themselves have clearly been chewed all the way down not just around the nails and they look awful. Dd said that it started as a cut on one of them which she kept picking.

How normal is this? I figure mildly biting nails isn't so unusual but never seen further down being chewed. She also has ibs which has been bothering her a bit recently.
There is nothing in her life that should be worrying her although she can over worry about very minor things but I never thought to this extent. She says she chews when she has to stand up in class to speak for example as she gets nervous.
I may not be able to reply much till later as at work today.

Thanks in advance.

TruthSweet Tue 23-Oct-12 12:26:58

DD1 who is 6.5y has been chewing/biting her finger skin for ages, to the point of her having cellulitis in her fingers about 5 or 6 times (cellulitis is PAINFUL so I don't know why that hasn't put her off). Her nails are bitten to the quick too

She's also is very sucky and is constantly being told off for sucking her coat, clothes, toys, books, even shoes. Everything goes in her mouth confused

TruthSweet Tue 23-Oct-12 12:31:18

Biting skin is called dermatophagia. It's related to OCD which I have.

Flippityjig Tue 23-Oct-12 13:41:23

My dd is 11 and also chews her fingers and nails. Not quite to the extent you stated but she seems to have them in her mouth a lot. However, I have now bought some Stop & Grow and she did stop straight away. Mind you, it tastes revolting! But the urge seems to still be there. She's definitely nervous and does it when she's talking to people she doesn't know so well, so probably similar to your daughter.

Sorry I can't give better advice. I have accepted my dd is a little sensitive one, not brimming over with confidence, but not sure how to help her.

BehindLockNumberNine Wed 24-Oct-12 20:44:00

My dd is nine and suffers from dermatophagia. She also used to suffer from trichotillomania (compulsive hairpulling) and has episodes of nervous and vocal ticcing.
Anxiety and OCD run in our family so we know what we are dealing with.

If your dd has only just started it may just be a little habit she has picked up. Stop and Grow may well do the trick.
Additonally, is there anything she is worried about? She could subconciously be trying to self-soothe by chewing? (I say this because my dd's chewing and ticcing is more pronounced during periods of change / stress / upset / anxiety. (so the teenage years are going to be fun...)

I hope your dd breaks the habit soon smile

Flippityjig Wed 24-Oct-12 22:25:26

Behindlocknumbernine, my dd started high school in September, which in itself is a big thing. I think she is quite shy and nervous and maybe anxious. I also am quite nervous. Do you have any tips for dealing with an anxious child? :-)

rainbowinthesky Thu 25-Oct-12 05:26:57

Thanks all. Dd had a hospital appointment this week and they are concerned her worrying is exacerbating a medical condition she has therefore want to refer her to cahms. It was a bit of a shock tbh so I asked them to wait till our next appointment at Xmas to see how things are.

BehindLockNumberNine Thu 25-Oct-12 07:48:01

Flippity, I wish I could say I had the answers. We just muddle through. The main key is to reassure, reassure, reassure. I try to downplay her minor worries so that she hopefully learns that some things really are not worth the amount of angst she puts into them whilst still acknowledging her feelings (ie don't be dismissive, don't tell her her fears are 'stupid' or 'daft) (not that you would, but I have been known to blush)
At other times, or with slightly larger worries, we sit and talk it through. But I take my cue from her, if she does not want to talk we don't talk and I just keep an eye/ear out.
I am rubbish at it tbh, not the most sensitive and intuitive mum. But we muddle through and dd seems happy enough.

Flippityjig Thu 25-Oct-12 20:33:01

Behindlocknumbernine, thanks for your honesty. thanks That's what I try to do too, not sure I'm very good at noticing either.

Clumsasaurus Fri 26-Oct-12 21:44:45

I bite/chew/pick my thumbs and have done for as long as I can remember - certainly since I was at least 13. I do it most when stressed or worried and do it almost subconsciously. During school years it was definitely at its worst where I would literally peel my thumbs (and fingers then too) from under the nail tip to the knuckle fold. God it sounds awful written down.

For what it's worth, in my casect was rarely painful. I have never found a way to stop but having a 'project' really held me - something to do with my hands so I don't sit and stew. Cross stitch, simple sewing, making friendship bracelets etc. I find once I am doing that, whilst chatting, watching tv I pick and chew less. I appreciate its not a cure but it may help break the cycle for your DD. lots of chats and reassurance too - my fondest teenage memories are chatting in the kitchen with my mum about my day etc

Good luck x

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