In the past three days, I've seen three children that have presented with finger biting/picking until they bleed, wow. So I figured there are probably a few more out there that this information could help. This was specifically written to give to a child's IEP team at school, but the same applies at home too.
Why do kids bite or pick their fingers until they bleed?
The behavior is not so much about the chewing or about the fingers, it’s a way to seek pressure. There are a lot of concentrated nerve endings in your fingertips and in your jaw, which means that when your child is chewing on their fingers they are receiving deep pressure through their fingertips and jaw, which is an attempt to organize their nervous system.
By replacing the behavior with something to chew or something to fidget with their fingers will only make them seek additional input since they're not getting as much “bang for their buck”.
What can we do to stop this behavior?
It would benefit your child tremendously to receive deep pressure/vestibular input (both long lasting/organizing types of sensory input) in a more appropriate manner. Suggestions are:
- animal walks down the hall way (crab walks, bear crawls, snake crawl, frog hops)
- put a piece of stretchy tubing (theraband/exercise band type material) across the front of their chair legs so they can push against it with their legs
- put a foot riser underneath their feet at their desk so their legs make a right angle (this way when they push against the floor with their feet the input is directed through their joints)
- jumping on a trampoline
- doing monkey bars (anything that requires hanging from their arms)
- using a climbing wall (if there's one available)
- push ups
- riding any type of scooter (a flat gym class scooter) while on their belly
- doing an activity with theraputty or playdoh (since this provides pressure through almost all of their fingertips at the same time as well as through the wrists and shoulders)
- streching (especially through the big joints like the hips and shoulders)
- doing yoga
- any type of running, bike riding, dodgeball, high energy movement gym activity
Remember: the bigger the joint is, or the more joints you can put pressure through while doing an activity, the more organizing an activity is for your child's nervous system.
Hi, my name is Nat and I'm the co-owner of Sprocket Therapy Solutions. I work with a colorful rainbow of kids and grownups on a daily basis and as a result, I think a lot. This blog is a way for me to share some of my thoughts with the world.