Kids do a lot of weird things, and while many of their habits and behaviors can be deemed “normal,” there are some that are more worrying to mom than others. Some kids bite their nails, some scratch their skin, and some tend to rock back and forth. While some of these are nothing to be worried about, they can indicate something else that is going on.

Another habit that moms may notice is chewing on their shirts. They find that whenever they look over, their child has their shirt in their mouth. This not only worries mom, but their child may be destroying the clothes that they spent their money on, and that they may have hoped they could pass on to younger siblings one day.

While this is likely nothing serious to worry about, it is important that we look at why some children do this, and what can be done to help them stop. This is not only to help children break a bad habit, but it can also help save some of their wardrobes.

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The Simple Answer

Credit: ARK Therapeutic

It is often said that the simple answer is the most likely, and that is probably the case here. According to Very Well Family, oral stimulation is an important part of child development, and that is likely what is going on. It is the most likely form of self-regulation that they have, and it is part of their own way of calming themselves down when they are upset. It is linked to the rooting behavior we see in infants when they are searching for their mother’s breasts. They move from the breast to the pacifier, and then it can go to their shirt.

Helps Them Focus

A child focusing hard on their school work
via Unsplash / Santi Vedri

If we look at adults, we can see a similar phenomenon happening, and that is because chewing on something can help us focus. According to Romper, a lot of people chew on pencils or pens when they are trying to focus. How many young adults had pencils with bite marks after a big test? Chewing can help them focus, and they may go to the closest thing they can find, which is their shirt. Children may chew on their shirts in school, without even realizing they are doing it.

How To Help Them Stop

child holding breath
Credit: Shutterstock

Even though we now know that this is typically harmless, parents would still like their children to break this habit. They don’t want their child walking around in a shirt that is soaking wet, and they don’t want their clothes to be ruined. There are some ways to help them to stop.

According to Pragmatic Lifestyle, the best way to get them to stop is to give them something else to chew on. If your child is old enough for gum, that is something you can try. If your child is younger, there are many chew-safe options that mom can find. They are usually made from food-grade silicone, and they are on a necklace that your child can chew on.

Sources: Very Well Family, Romper, Pragmatic Lifestyle