Thinking About What She's Doing When She's Chewing
September 3, 2019 9:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I get my daughter to chew with her mouth closed?

I've asked my wonderful, creative, calm 11-year-old daughter not to chew with her mouth open a million times. It never works for more than a few bites of food. I just can't seem to get her to internalize this behavior. Part of the problem is that she's not always eating with me, so she's not getting this same feedback at school, camp, etc. But the main problem is she just can't seem to remember to do it. I think perhaps it's partially because she's a bit of a dreamer with her head in the clouds. I love that about her, but it makes it hard sometimes for her to focus on the here and now.

Has anyone come up with some successful methods for getting children to chew with their mouths closed?
posted by Dansaman to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My daughter had the same problem, and verbally telling her to stop didn't help. What ended up helping was telling her (privately, not during a meal) that I wanted to help her remember to chew with her mouth closed, so I was going to quietly get her attention and make a subtle gesture (two fingers horizontally across my lips while making eye contact) as a reminder that nobody else would notice.

This was not a magic bullet, but I made it a point to do it regularly, and quietly, and it took a few years (yep, some habits are hard to establish/hard to break) of consistent reinforcement, and now I rarely need to do it. Hope this helps.
posted by davejay at 10:26 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Crazy question, but have you asked her if she's able to breathe through her nose? If she has sinus/allergy problems that have been an ongoing thing, it may not even occur to her that keeping your mouth closed all the time is a normal thing.

My youngest has horrific allergies and is congested about 10mo out of the year. I still have to remind her to keep her mouth closed. Mine is going on 15yo, btw. ;)
posted by dancinglamb at 2:18 AM on September 4 [29 favorites]


Crazy question, but have you asked her if she's able to breathe through her nose? If she has sinus/allergy problems that have been an ongoing thing, it may not even occur to her that keeping your mouth closed all the time is a normal thing.

Yeah, this was my thought too.

I got told off a lot as a child for eating with my mouth open - but I had a deviated septum and inflamed sinuses - I needed to open my mouth to BREATHE.
posted by Murderbot at 2:30 AM on September 4 [9 favorites]


My brother has a deviated septum and allergies and is most comfortable chewing with his mouth open, too. He's middle aged now and has perfectly lovely table manners in polite company but in his own home with family all bets are off. He was better able to chew with his mouth closed when he got treatment for his allergies as a teen. So I third getting your kid's sinuses looked at properly, just in case.
posted by Mizu at 3:10 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Make a video, show it to her (then delete it).

Or just mimic her.
posted by at at 6:38 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


What helped me was a friend at camp saying “wow, did you know you chew with your mouth open? That’s gross!”. After that I paid constant attention to it until it became second nature.

I have absolutely no memory of a parent ever telling me I did, but I’m assuming they must of. If there’s a non parent person who can politely tell her it might help, by that age I tuned my parents out fairly well.
posted by lepus at 7:56 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for a kid who is particularly emotionally sensitive, but...my parents cured me of open-mouth chewing at around the same age by filming it (with my consent) and playing the video back for me. It was horrifying, and I broke the habit that day (and now I can't stand it when anyone else chews with their mouth open, go figure...)
posted by aecorwin at 12:31 PM on September 4


My idea (which I imagine many parents would veto) would be some positive reenforcement, a cash incentive -- reward the kid with dollar bills. Have her take a bite of something, then hand her a dollar and tell her she can keep it if she can hold it between her lips until after she chews and swallows.
posted by Rash at 9:47 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Positive reinforcement of the behavior you WANT to see is the best way to change behavior. How can you reward her for chewing with her mouth closed to reinforce that pattern?
posted by spindrifter at 7:24 AM on September 5


Put a mirror in front of her while she eats+
posted by Jacqueline at 12:39 AM on September 7


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