Should DD be punished by the school for a habit of chewing things?(112 Posts)
So... I get to my DDs school earlier as was greeted my the deputy head asking if she could have a word. She then proceeded to tell me that my daughter had been in red Zone twice this week for chewing pencils when she’d been told not too.
For background so as not to drip feed:
My DD is nearly 6. She had no disabilities or behavioural issues and I’ve never had any concerns. She has however, always had a habit of chewing things that’s she hasn’t yet grown out of.
A few months ago, the class TA pulled my husband aside and said to him that strictly parent to parent the school was getting through loads of stationary as my daughter kept chewing on it and could we buy her a chew necklace to keep in school as she could chew on that instead of on the stationary. We obliged and bought her the necklace which she keeps in school.
Today, when the deputy head spoke to me I said “I understand you have to deal with bad behaviour but I really don’t consider this issue a behavioural issue and don’t think it should be linked to discipline as she’s not subconsciously doing it” she said “I see where your coming from but the chew necklace you got DD she’s now now saying hurts the back of her gums so she is reluctant to use it” then I said “can I get back to you as we are in a rush to get to swimming lessons” and that’s how I’ve left it.
When I got home I spoke to my husband and he said he’s glad I had the presence of mind to question them and that I should speak to them and say that we are happy to provide anything to aid her with the chewing habit so schools property isn’t damaged but that we don’t want her punished for chewing.
I did a bit of research and it seems to suggest that chewing of this nature is subconscious and it’s a way of them controlling anxiety amongst other things. I’m also wondering if the chew necklace is making her feel like she stands out as different to the other children.
My daughter was upset this evening as she’s already missed one break time this week for chewing, where she had to sit inside at break and think about her actions and now she has to miss another one tomorrow.
To add, I did check with the deputy and she said her being in red was purely to do with chewing and no other bad behaviour.
So....what do I do? How do I tackle it with the school? I’m anxious to maintain a good relationship with them but also mindful that my daughter is dealt with fairly.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Tell your daughter to stop chewing stationery?
It's wasteful and disgusting would you like to use a pencil that someone had been chewing on?
Perhaps supply her with her own stock ofor pencils so she can munch on them as much as she wants?
Tell her she can only chew on her necklace?
You either send her in with her own supply of pencils to chew or you help her find an alternative way of controlling her feelings.
Ds is a chewer but chewing pencils I would always discourage
Buy some nasty tasting nail polish (the safe to taste one that people use to stop chewing their nails) and paint it on her pencils.
Missings breaks etc seems a lot but on the other hand her chewing is a problem.
Maybe ask the school if they can shift onto a reward system for this one issue rather than a punishment. E.g. if she doesn't chew her pencil all morning she gets a dot on a chart and if she gets 30 dots the TA tells you and you will have a treat with her.
It's a horrible habit. I once taught a child who sucked his fingers constantly. Drool everywhere 😩
You need to take responsibility for sorting it!
I tell her to stop chewing all the time!! She says she doesn’t realise she’s doing it?
I’m trying to find anyone with experience of whether it is behavioural and can be stopped or if it’s instinctive. I don’t know how to tackle it if I don’t know which it is.
I’m also thinking prehaps the school is worried about a choking hazard which I can understand.
I would actually be annoyed if I found out that my child had a chewing habit and the school wasn't dealing with it. It's a horrible habit to have. Why don't you suggest booking some sessions with the school counsellor to explore the possibility of underlying anxiety and to put in place some habit replacement therepy.
I'd agree about finding something safer to chew on - but realistically she still needs to chew
I'd maybe describe it in terms of 'stimming' to the school rather than a habit and that it provides her with comfort and security....
Your daughter needs to control her chewing habbits. I sometimes see the adults who spoil the pencils and pens and it looks ridiculous. I would be embarrassed being in the red and would try not to repeat it again but children these days are so different. You see an older child with its thumb in the mouth and it's fine because it's comforting.
When I was in primary school (80's) I went through a stage of chewing pencils constantly, even managed pens on a few occasions... Cue a mouth and face full of ink! I wasn't a nervous or anxious child it just seemed to be a really bad habit I managed to pick up and kept for quite a while!
I don't ever remember getting punished for it either, probably got comments from teachers and maybe told to stop it but I wasn't forced.
I do remember my classmates putting soap on the end of my pencils though....maybe that's why I finally quit! I think I just grew out of it eventually. Has definitely stopped by the time I got to secondary anyway!
You could buy her own box of pencils if that's what the school is having a main issue with. Put that disgusting nail biting stuff on the ends and maybe that will discourage her!
Dairy and Katy thank you so much for your advice. This is greatly appreciated....
I sympathise massively. I had this problem up until i was in my early teens and I drove everyone mad. I chewed the entire sleeves off my school cardigan. Chewed my hair and my hands causing wounds. Chewed a chunk out of the wooden headboard of my bed. Let alone pens and pencils.....
It certainly was not on purpose and plenty of people told me to 'stop it' but that doesnt actually help.
Im not sure what the actual problem was as I had no kind of learning issues or autism or anything like that. Eventually I just grew out of it although I do still chew my hands a bit.
No one ever 'punished' me at school about and I do think you are very right to question that because it is not likely to have any positive effect on the problem at all. If anything it will only serve to make her more anxious which may exacerbate the problem.
Think you need to sort out your daughter's problem. At 6, it's a bit unusual to still be doing this. A reward system might be better but I wouldn't question what the school have done by asking her to miss a play time or two. It's not the end of the world and bad behaviour (dressing school property repeatedly) has consequences.
I have kids chewing jumper sleeves. You need to sort it as it’s gross.
Hmmm maybe it is just a bad habit.
Wish I knew either way.
That much chewing behaviour sounds more like an oral sensory issue (seeking, rather than avoiding, sensory feedback in her mouth).
Is it only stationary stuff like pencils she chews or would she jumper sleeves, hair, remote control etc? Does she chew at home? If not, then not sensory induced and like you say, more likely to be anxiety driven.
Also, have you had her teeth checked at the dentists? Molars come in around 6 yrs so it may be worse because of that.
I do think the school should not be keeping her in a time playtimes...particularly because if it isn’t anxiety based, she will need her play time to self-regulate and calm her system.
I would write to school, maybe copy in chair of gov’s and explain that whilst you know it’s not desirable to have a child chewing that much, you’re trying to work out the cause and in the mean time, you don’t want her to be kept in or punished for it.
You can get pencil toppers that you can chew, maybe as a solution whilst you work on dealing with it.
Chew toys can have different ‘hardness’- maybe a softer one?
They certainly shouldn't be punishing her. Both my DCs had a chew necklace for a while. They both have sensory processing disorder and the chewing was linked to anxiety in school. They had really cool neon ones so I don't think they felt it was something to be ashamed of plus they weren't the only ones. If you google any sensory websites I am sure there are loads of other options like pencil toppers which she may feel more comfortable with both in terms of not standing out and the feel on her mouth. Sounds like school are not being particularly helpful! I would pop in for a chat to discuss a home/ school action plan which is supportive rather than punitive. x
Wind what you describe sounds like my daughter to a tee. She also chews hair. I must tell her 10 times a day to stop chewing things.🙈
My DS did this. He is dyspraxic and it's a sensory/ anxiety thing. I'm not suggesting that your DD is dyspraxic, and understand that she can't just knaw through school property, but I don't think they're being very understanding.
I don't know what to suggest really, as I expect you don't want to get into a battle with them about it, but disciplining her in this way seems harsh. Making her anxious about it will also probably just make it worse. Can the SENCO help?
I like Verbena37's advice
& the pencil toppers
She really doesn't deserve punishment
If she didn't like the necklace Chewee (I think that's what the brand is called!) makes pencil toppers which are more descreat to chew.
There are grounding techniques that can be used to support children who feel anxious. There are those weighted blankets but even simple things like pushing her hands down on her knees/shoulders/head work really well. Or distractions such a rolling a small piece of bluetac.
Sorry, had a few typos in my post that were supposed to read the other way round!
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