Nervous habits and stereotyped behaviors in preschool children

L G Foster
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1998, 37 (7): 711-7

OBJECTIVE: To examine the frequency, age trends, and situational correlates of nervous habits (e.g., nail-biting, thumb-sucking) and motor stereotyped behaviors (e.g., body-rocking) in typically developing preschool children.

METHOD: Data were compiled from 100 teacher interviews and 32 parent interviews on children aged 3 to 6 years. A semistructured, individually administered interview was used.

RESULTS: Parents reported the most behaviors, with the most common behaviors being thumb-sucking (25%) and nail-biting (23%). Motor stereotypies demonstrated a frequency of 4% as reported by the teachers and a frequency of 3% as reported by the parents. Teachers reported a decrease in children having the nervous habit of picking at sores, lips, etc., with age. Parents reported a significant decrease in all nervous habits with age. Nervous habits were associated with structured times during the day and negative mood states, and teachers reported that girls were more likely than boys to display nervous habits.

CONCLUSION: Nervous habits and stereotypies are prevalent in typically developing preschool children, and their presence appears to be a reflection of mood state.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.