Having two children at ages 4 and 6, we believed we were in the clear for worrying about choking from putting non-edible things in mouths. Of course, things are never that easy and our 4 year old has recently decided to put whatever he can find in his mouth. After a recent scare where he swallowed a marble we have attempted just about everything to keep this from happening.
We first tried to simply do timeout, take away his favorite toy for a week, etc... While this had a positive short term effect, he was back to it the next day. We also believed that perhaps he was doing it to get attention, positive or negative, so we also tried to simply get the item of concern away from him and resume what we were doing without giving the slightest bit of attention. That didn't work at all. Finally we have resorted to essentially clearing the house of anything and everything that might be a concern and prevent him from playing with toys that contain small parts, just as we might a baby. The harder part is that there is no trend. Sometimes it seems like he is doing intentionally and other times it seems almost like habit.
This problem was significantly easier with babies because we could simply take the approach of deal with for now and they will soon grow out of it, but with a 4-year old, we are not quite sure WHEN he will grow out of it. With school coming up soon, we are terrified to send him to a place where he can do as he pleases when someone may not be paying attention.
Does anyone have any strategies for preventing older children from putting things in mouths?
Edit: I thought I would give an update for anyone going through something similar. It turns out the best solution for us was to designate a toy that was considered OK to put in the mouth. He would do just that for much of the day, but after some time, it almost seemed like he just got kind of bored of it and we haven't seen him do it again for several days. Strange..