|Moai statues at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island|
Lately I’ve been looking around at my class of six-year-olds and noticing how many of them have things in their mouth constantly. Fingers, hair, shirts (sleeves or collars), pencils, water bottles, and my personal favourite — shoe laces. I have been wondering if they all need soothers or teething rings.
And maybe they do.
Six-year-olds are typically losing baby teeth and growing primary teeth at record speed. In addition to that, lots of them are getting their six-year molars. When babies are teething, we give them things to suck and chew on, but we don’t do the same thing with bigger kids.
Today I came across an article that says not only that gum-chewing provides the sensory stimulation so many kids are craving, but also that it is calming and helps improve attention and concentration.
And my dentist recommends (sugar-free) gum when there are long periods of time between brushings, such as the average school day.
* For more information on gum chewing and attention, see Dr. Andrew Johnson's article in the British Journal of Psychology -- Morgan, K., Johnson, A.J., & Miles, C. (2014). Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement. The British Journal of Psychology, 105, 214-225.