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Stopping a Dangerous Habit

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  • Stopping a Dangerous Habit

    My son has a habit that we've been trying to stop for over a year. He constantly puts things in his eyeball.

    It started with him putting the corner of his blanket in his eye when he was falling asleep. He would only do it for a moment before he was asleep so we didn't really think anything of it. But then it became a horrid habit that would happen throughout the day. He's always been a thumb-sucker, so he would suck the right thumb and use his left hand to put something (usually his lovey or his blanket) in his left eye. Just in the very outer corner, and barely touching the eyeball.

    We would redirect and that still works really well. But I feel like I spend my whole day saying "out of your eyeball, lets ______." Lemme tell you, that one gets some strange looks in the store.

    Now it's gotten to the point hat he puts ALL KINDS of things in his eye. Coins, toys, blankets, sticks, rocks, even a screw he found. I am PETRIFIED that he's going to do some serious damage.

    Both my husband and I have sat down and talked with him about it, about the risks of infection and blindness, and I know he kinda gets it, but he's just a bit over two and cant fully comprehend the danger. I have also spoken with the optometrist to see if there may be some sort of medical reason. There isn't.

    The pattern seems to be he does it when he's tired or he needs some love, both result in snuggles. I like to think there are plenty of touch-related opportunities throughout the day, but maybe I'm missing something?

    My daughter (4) is a fidgety little critter and has her own habit of playing with her lower lip. So there's something going on.... The thing that has me so confused is that they both do it during activity too - playing legos or blocks or dolls or coloring.

    I've thought of googling images of eye infections but am not sure if that will help him at his age. We have tried making a big deal out of it, and tried making it casual, I know there HAS to be another option.

    Any suggestions? Anyone else's kids stick things in their eyes on a regular basis?

    Thanks for listening.

  • #2
    Originally posted by katrina View Post
    He constantly puts things in his eyeball....Just in the very outer corner, and barely touching the eyeball....Now it's gotten to the point hat he puts ALL KINDS of things in his eye. Coins, toys, blankets, sticks, rocks, even a screw he found.
    So, when you say "in his eye" or "out of your eyeball", you mean he's taking an object and barely touching the outer corner of his eye with it, right? I just want to make sure I understand. Is he hurting himself or in pain at all when he's doing this? What is your biggest concern...infection or social implications?


    • #3
      He's touching his actual eyeball with the objects.

      My biggest fear is he's going to scratch his eyeball and get an infection, or trip while he's doing it and gouge his eye.

      I really don't care much about the social issue with it, and it doesn't seem to hurt him. But he'll end up with red spots at the very corner of his eye on the skin where he rests his hand when he does it.


      • #4
        My first thought is that since he's not hurting himself, don't interfere too much. When you see it happening, distract him right away and give him something else to do with his hands. Or like you say, gently remove the object form his hands (without saying anything) as you scoop him into a cuddle. Cuddles are always great distractions! When my son bites his nails while we read, I reach over, take one of his hands and give him a little hand massage while I keep reading.

        My second thought is that he might just need more time to outgrow this. This age is full of lots of sensory exploration & development (an NO logic or reasoning), and once he moves out of this stage of development, he might move past the behavior too. In the meantime, you might just approach the behavior like any other unwanted toddler behavior...1. prevention, 2. distraction & 3. redirection.

        I'm sorry I don't have anything more concrete to offer!


        • #5
          It just seems so odd. It's an eyeball, you know? It makes my eye hurt just thinking about it. It is kinda cool that it totally creeps out the grandparents though!