There are some preschoolers who tend to stuff their mouths. They do this for a variety of reasons, however, in my experience, this is what I’ve seen the most when young children are overstuffing.
Reasons Why Preschoolers Overstuff Their Mouthes
Most of the time, a child is not perceiving the muscles and space in their mouth. This is from a lack of development of proprioception (this is one of the 3 sensory systems). The child has a lower level of awareness inside their mouths and doesn’t feel the food. The process of stuffing makes nerves in the cheeks and on the lips more aware and then the child can feel that food is present in their mouth.
I will often hear teaching staff say, “Chew your food all up before the next bite.” Or “Not such big bites.”
Why Children Need Real Solutions to Stop Overstuffing Their Mouths
You have to understand that you can talk all day and remind your kiddos to not take such big bites or to slow down when they’re eating, but until the child has a mouth that is alert to feeling, you are just talking and they are trying to think through it, but they don’t have a real illustration of what it actually feels like when their mouth has enough food in it.
This is just another reason why sensory training for your whole preschool or Early Start/Head Start staff is important. There are simple techniques to wake up the mouth before a meal. I have combined some very effective routines that benefit children and are easy for staff to use that further the sensory development. I would be so happy to share this and much more sensory processing support that you can use in your classroom. Remember, a child with a more intact sensory system will take in more information than one that cannot overcome their sensory roadblocks.
I have lots of info and demonstrations on how to help with this, but for starters with preschoolers who are mouth stuffers, you can have the child use a vibrating teether before they eat. This will alert the nerves and wake up the mouth so they don’t have to stuff their cheeks to feel there is food in their mouth.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Have a super week and thank you for working with kids! If you want a view of one of my solutions I can provide in my training Sensory Processing: It Does Make Sense, check out my video on “Waking Up the Mouth Surfaces for Children Seeking Sensory Input”.