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Is Your Child Orally Fixated?

Is Your Child Orally Fixated?

When should you worry?

Basically, whenever your child’s need to self-soothe starts to interfere with other things, like interacting with friends or participating in school, says Erin Klein, an occupational therapist. “If your child would rather sit and self-soothe than engage in what’s going on around them, it can become a barrier for them,” she says. Teasing can also be an issue if a kid gets to grade two and still sucks his shirt.

A parent’s first reaction to an orally fixated child is often to try stopping the behaviour altogether, says Dr. Fry. It never works. A better bet is to stand back and notice when it happens, what the child is doing at the time, and his emotional state. “Reprimanding only increases anxiety or leads to power struggles,” says Dr. Fry. “You just need to watch the behaviour, think about what could be causing it, then work on it together.” If you think your child may be orally fixated, your pediatrician may recommend a child psychologist or occupational therapist to help, especially if the problem seems to be interfering with language development. That said, oral fixation doesn’t always require therapy, Dr. Fry adds, and there are many things parents can do on their own.