How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask professional_Alison Your Own Question
professional_Alison, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 78
Experience:  Degree in early years,16 years experience in childcare
Type Your Parenting Question Here...
professional_Alison is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

my 3.5 year old daughter has started gritting her teeth. i

Resolved Question:

my 3.5 year old daughter has started gritting her teeth. i think its out of frustration but i feel its very aggressive. she also does it to her brother (1) when she goes to hug him and also with other little ones. v curious if this is just a phase or if its away of expressing her emotions. anything we can do?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  professional_Alison replied 5 years ago.

professional_Alison : Hello there, may I help you? Teeth gritting can be a form of frustration as well as aggression. Does your daughter have trouble expressing herself? It is best to ignore this behaviour as it is likely to be a phase which will pass. If you draw attention to it she may do it more to get a reaction from you. Do let me know if I can assist you further.
Expert:  earthsister replied 5 years ago.
Good morning. I wish to share my views with you about your daughter's teeth grinding, and what you may be able to do to stop it. Teeth grinding is actually called "Bruxism." Bruxism is not healthy because it can cause damage to the teeth and other areas of the mouth near the teeth, or lead to headaches or other pain in the area of the face. Although Bruxism (teeth grinding) is not as much as an issue for children as adults (because children don't yet have their adult teeth), and many children grow out of doing it, it is best that you see your dentist about the issue. Stress is the biggest reason for teeth grinding in adults, and for children, most think that it is due to the teeth not being aligned properly (although stress could be possible for children also). Either way, you would not want your child's teeth grinding to develop into a habit that she carries with her into adulthood. Your dentist may be able to prescribe your daughter a mouth guard at night to limit any damage caused by Bruxism. Here is an article that provides further insight into the issue of teeth grinding in children:
I hope that my answer has been of assistance. If you need any other help with this issue, please let me know. I wish you the best!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
hi professional alison, i will ignore it and havent really mentioned it so far. how do you suggest i help her through this phase? i deep down feel its more aggression than frustration as she doesnt do it for example when she cant complete a puzzle. she only does it around other people, particularly smaller children. i never think she has trouble expressing herself as she speaks so well for her age but maybe its an emotion she cant verbalise? any thoughts...

earth sister - she is not grinding her teeth, she is gritting them

Expert:  earthsister replied 5 years ago.
Good afternoon. Can you please explain to me exactly what this teeth gritting is in comparison to grinding?, because my research is showing it to be the same thing (also called clenching). Can you please elaborate?
Expert:  earthsister replied 5 years ago.
I do think that the "gritting" that you are referring to (clenching the teeth together) is the same thing that I am describing (commonly called "clenching", which is also a part of Bruxism along with grinding:
Let me know if I am correct?
Expert:  professional_Alison replied 5 years ago.

Hi again, thank you for replying back to me.


Having read your information your daughter sounds like a bright child and may be experiencing problems expressing an emotion such as jealousy or anger with regard to smaller children.


For example if she sees you giving attention to her younger brother and gritting her teeth, this would demonstrate a jealous reaction. If she has a toy taken away from her or perhaps a puzzle spoilt by a younger child then this is frustration and anger.


You need to observe her and try to pinpoint when she is gritting. She may be using this as a form of control to stop herself lashing out at a child younger then her as she knows she will get into trouble. Perhaps keep an informal diary of when it occurs help you see the cause each time.


When you see her gritting perhaps talk to her quietly and calmly and ask her "whats the matter darling, is there something I can help you with?" If she is good at communicating she may be able to tell you. For example "that boy took my toy".


If you can identify the problem area you can then deal with the cause and effect. For example if it is anger through a younger child breaking toys or interfering in a puzzle, suggest she does it at a table where they cant reach.


If it is jealous behavior of a younger sibling talk to her about how much you love her, let her know you love spending time with her and playing with her but also that you need to look after her brother. Then introduce a role of big sister helper, ger her involved in games with the little one and helping you bath and change him. This will make her feel important and valued and the jealous behavior should subside.


The other thing to try is the distraction technique, as soon as you see her gritting, take her attention away to another situation, "come on darling lets go and read a story or choose a puzzle". So you are immediately changing her thought process to something new.


It may also be worth finding some activities which talk about different emotions, simple games about feelings will help her process and understand if she is having feelings that she may be having trouble expressing.


This is a good book available from amazon and suitable for her age : How Do You Feel (Understanding Myself Series) [Library Binding] Child's World (Firm) (Author), Childs World Editors (Author), Frances Hook.


I hope this has been of some use to you. I look forward to assisting you further.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks professional alison

I have been observing and it seems to happen more when she tries to give affection, rather than an angry response to something. When a little one spoils a puzzle she says things like, 'oh' and slaps her hand on the floor or table in frustration. if she goes to give a hug its like she struggles being gentle and gives a firm squeeze and clenches her teeth. any thoughts on that?

I will definitely purchase the book, sounds good

thank you
Expert:  professional_Alison replied 5 years ago.
Hello again and thank you for your response, I agree with what you are saying that your daughter may be struggling to be gentle. It may be that she so wants to cuddle and love a little one that she finds it hard to be gentle. It is a hard concept for a little one to grasp. She will need support here. Encourage her to stroke and cuddle gently, guide her hands and praise her displays of affection. This is turn will give her confidence to show affection without being to hard.
professional_Alison, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 78
Experience: Degree in early years,16 years experience in childcare
professional_Alison and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  professional_Alison replied 5 years ago.
Thank you do let me know if I can assist you further. I wish you all the best.