Most everyone suffers from bad habits, including teenagers. Some bad habits are more common than others, such as nail biting or knuckle cracking, and some aren’t quite as common, such as your teen’s bad habit of chewing on her sleeve -- something that toddlers are notorious for. It might be something she does when she’s concentrating or something she does when she’s bored. Regardless, you want her to break this habit as soon as possible. Breaking a bad habit is difficult for anyone, but teens don’t always have the same willpower and ability as an adult, which means you need to be there for her as she works on breaking this bad habit.
Make note of the times and situations in which your teen chews on his sleeve. According to Susan Jaffe, MD, a New York City-based psychiatrist, when you can pinpoint factors that lead to your teen’s sleeve chewing, you can help him overcome his habit. If you notice that he tends to chew on his sleeve when he is worried, make him aware of what he is doing. Being conscious of when and what situations cause him to chew his sleeves most often can help him realize his actions and avoid them in the future.
Provide your teen with a distraction that will take the place of her sleeve chewing, advises Art Markman, Ph.D. and psychologist. If your daughter tends to chew on her sleeve when she is concentrating on her homework, provide her with something else to do when she concentrates. Give her a stress ball or bean bag to squeeze, a pack of gum she can chew or some other healthy snack she can nibble on in lieu of her sleeves.
Give your teen a rubber band and make him wear it around his wrist, says Patricia A. Farrell, a New Jersey-based clinical psychologist. This will provide him with a tangible reminder that he is not supposed to chew his sleeves. When he feels the urge to chew or notices that he’s been chewing on his sleeves, he should pull the rubber band up and snap it down on his wrist. It won’t hurt him but it’s uncomfortable and it will help him to remember that he will experience that feeling every time he chews his shirt, which could help him break the habit pretty quickly.
Keep an eye on your teen to ensure that she does not replace her bad habit of chewing on her sleeves with another bad habit equally as gross, such as chewing on her finger nails.