child rubbing on furniture at school

  • April 15, 2023

Understanding the Reasons Behind Your Child Rubbing on Furniture at School

As a parent, have you ever received a complaint from your child’s teacher that your child is rubbing excessively on school furniture, swinging their legs under their desks, or tapping their feet? While these behaviors may seem harmless, they may indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why children rub on furniture at school, how it affects their learning experience, and ways to discourage this behavior. We will also answer some commonly asked questions related to this behavior.

Why Do Children Rub on Furniture at School?

Children rub on school furniture for various reasons; some do it to regulate their sensory systems, while others do it as a way to cope with anxiety or boredom.

Sensory Integration Disorder: Children with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) have trouble processing sensory information effectively. As a result, they may rub on furniture or other objects as a way to regulate their senses. They may also retreat to a quieter space or fidget with objects to self soothe.

Anxiety: Anxiety can manifest in many different ways, and one of the ways that it shows itself in children is through fidgeting behaviors. Children may rub on furniture as a way to calm themselves down or regulate their emotions.

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Boredom: Sometimes, children may rub on furniture because they are bored, disengaged, or under-stimulated. This may be a sign that they need more challenging activities during the school day that will keep them engaged and focused.

How Does Rubbing on Furniture Affect Children’s Learning Experience?

While rubbing on furniture does not necessarily indicate a learning disability or disorder, it may have some negative consequences on children’s learning experience. Some of these consequences include:

Limited Attention: When children rub or fidget excessively, it can be distracting to themselves and those around them. This limits their attention to the classroom lesson, leading to the loss of important information.

Isolation: Children who exhibit fidgeting or rubbing behaviors may be perceived as different or weird by their peers, leading to their social isolation. It can also impact their self-esteem negatively.

Poor Academic Performance: Rubbing on furniture can be a sign of anxiety or stress. These negative emotions can impede a child’s ability to learn and absorb information, leading to poor academic performance.

How Can You Discourage This Behavior?

If your child has been rubbing on school furniture, there are several strategies you can use to discourage this behavior.

Sensory Tools: Provide your child with a sensory tool, like a fidget cube or stress ball, that they can use to regulate their sensory systems and keep their hands busy.

Breathing Exercises: Teach your child deep-breathing exercises, which they can use to calm themselves down when they are feeling anxious or stressed.

Chewy Necklaces: Chewy necklaces and bracelets can provide an alternative sensory stimulation that your child can use instead of rubbing on furniture.

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Occupational Therapy: Consult with an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration therapy. They can teach your child various exercises and techniques to help them manage and cope with their sensory processing challenges.


Q: Is it normal for my child to rub on furniture?

A: Yes, as long as it does not interfere with their learning experience. Some children rub on furniture as a way to regulate their senses.

Q: How do I know if my child’s rubbing behavior is a problem?

A: If your child’s rubbing behavior is causing them to be distracted, losing important information or negatively affecting their academic performance, it may be a problem that needs to be addressed.

Q: Can rubbing on furniture be a sign of autism?

A: Yes, excessive rubbing on furniture can sometimes be a sign of autism. However, it is important to note that not all children who rub on furniture have autism.

Q: Should I punish my child for rubbing on furniture?

A: No, punishing your child for this behavior is not effective. Instead, try to understand the underlying reason and seek appropriate help such as occupational therapy or other sensory interventions.

In conclusion, rubbing on furniture may seem like a simple behavior, but it may indicate an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers must work together to identify the root cause of the problem and find solutions to discourage this behavior while ensuring a positive learning experience for the child.