Child is constantly moving her fingers

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My 7yr old daughter is always moving her fingers, while she’s eating,while watching TV, at school. She mentioned it to me, she told me that she can’t stop doing it, but she said it doesn’t bother her.
But I’m just really worried, that maybe something is bothering her and she doesn’t realize it.
When she’s moving her fingers it kind of looks like she’s counting,because she does it in order, she has like a sequence, she touches her pinky with her ring finger, then she touches her ring finger with her middle finger,then she touches her middle finger with her pointer, then touches her pointer with her thumb and then sometimes she does it backwards.
Thank you.

A: It’s hard to know at her age just what is behind this kind of behavior. I’m assuming you would have mentioned it if you had other concerns. If she is a typical kid in every other way, I’d hold off the worrying for awhile. Kids stumble on things that soothe them. Some twist their hair. Some chew on a sleeve. Some develop more socially unacceptable habits like nail biting. Often these habits fade – especially if the grownups can refrain from making too big a deal of them. Since you’re not getting calls from her teacher or the school psychologist, I suggest you leave it alone for now. At the next parent-teacher conference, you could ask the teacher if your daughter does it at school too and if it is causing any difficulties for her.

If you do get input from others that this behavior is becoming a problem, you could make an appointment to see a child psychologist for an evaluation. If there is a definable problem, you will get ideas for what to do. If the psychologist tells you it’s merely a way she automatically self-soothes, you will get peace of mind.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Child is constantly moving her fingers. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/21/child-is-constantly-moving-her-fingers/

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