Kids put everything in their mouths. It’s supposed to be just a stage.
But what’s going on when older kids refuse to give up the habit or regress back to it? And how should they cope?
When kids (and adults) chew on objects, it engages the powerful muscles in the jaw. The chomping powerfully stimulates a VERY important sense, the proprioceptive sense.
If you’re familiar with the world of sensory processing, you probably know that the proprioceptive sense has to do with body awareness, coming from pressure on joints and ligaments.
You may not know that proprioceptive input is universally calming and beneficial to the brain.
And while your child may be unaware, their body is craving that input via the “heavy work” of the jaw muscles.
So it’s really a good thing, a helpful thing.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be socially unacceptable or even harmful (hurting their fingers, chewing dangerous objects, etc.)
So how can you as a parent help your child cope and find acceptable ways to get the proprioceptive oral input they crave?
Here’s some of our favorite ideas…
(I am honored to have this post sponsored by ARK Therapeutic. My family has used their products for years and they stand out from the crowd!)
Blow a Ping Pong Ball or Pom Pom from one place to another (Really challenge them and get them in prone position with this idea.)
Suck a Thick Smoothie or Yogurt through a Crazy Straw (This smoothie can actually help with your child’s sensory symptoms and tastes wonderful!)
Bubble Mountain (Learn how to make one here.)
Skip the Brush and Blow Paint (See how here.)
Airbrush Markers (One of our personal favorites, it’s hard work!)
Don’t forget the connection between oral sensory seeking and proprioceptive seeking. Very often, by getting proprioceptive input to other parts of the body, you can help alleviate the need to chew.
If you’re needing sensory activity ideas for every need, situation and budget, you’ve gotta get FREE access to the sensory activities “VAULT” HERE.
Eat Crunchy and Chewy Foods like Carrots or Gum
Get a Vibrating Toothbrush and have them feel the sensations all over the inside of their mouth as well as along the outside of their jaw line
And the easiest, most travel worthy, and satisfying… the CHEWY!!!
There are so many different types of chewys available through ARK Therapeutic, you’ll be sure to find one that fits your child’s preferences. Some have a lot of give, while others are quite tough. Some are textured, some are smooth. Some are even scented! And they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes!
My son loves the Grabber XXT. It can get way back to his back molars and it can handle his extremely strong jaw for much longer than other products on the market we’ve tried.
We also love the “Brick Stick”. As you can see from his smile, he doesn’t feel “different” from other kids when he wears it. He just feels cool.
A photo posted by Julie (@mymundaneandmiraculouslife) on
Looking for more sensory activities? Check out these printable ones with great visuals!