Friday, February 12, 2010

Bad Behaviour - Bursting the Belief


Did you know that the habit of hair chewing / nail biting discussed in last week’s blog can often be mistaken for bad behaviour?

The need for chewing or snacking when you’re supposed to be doing homework is a matter of the child’s Learning Style. It should be recognised for what it is: a comforting action under pressure or to relieve boredom, which also seems to help with problem solving.

Sadly, the need for intake (chewing) is often interpreted as neurotic behaviour because the more it’s forbidden, the greater the need and it could then lead to compulsive behaviour.


Combined with the need for tactile stimulation, the need for intake often leads to smoking. Is your child at risk? Find out here.


Parents should observe, under which conditions their children chew most and when do they ‘forget’ to do that (most likely when their hands are occupied and they are really engaged in an activity). Acknowledging the need and getting to know their Learning Style is the best starting point.


Today we’re fortunate to have Barbara Prashnig, a world expert in the field of Learning Styles, to answer our questions.

Q: Does hair-chewing increase under stress?

A: Although there are so far no scientific studies on that subject, from anecdotal evidence & observation from LS users, people (and children in particular) who have taken up the habit of chewing their hair (in LS terms have a high need for intake/mouth stimulation combined with a preference for tactile stimulation), seem to increase when they experience the following:

a) being VERY excited, talking about something, reporting and not having anything to do with their fingers;

b) concentrating deeply, forgetting the world around them but again, not having anything to chew or occupy their fingers with;

c) being bored, impatient also can bring about this behaviour – it seems to be comforting.

Q: "My child only seems to chew when they find the homework boring. What does it mean?"

A: See point c) above. Make sure, your child learns multi-sensory, can move about when needed, has it comfortable, the right light level, noise or quiet etc according to their personal style combinations.

Q: If the school has a rigid no-chewing policy, can the chewing need to relieved by matching the child's other learning needs?

A: Not necessarily, particularly when the urge for chewing is very strong (remember: it’s biological and can influenced by will only with difficulty). When a child’s hands are occupied & the learning is multi-sensory, then often the need for chewing goes down, but chewing also often functions as a thinking or learning-enhancer.

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