Thumb Sucking – Help your child break the habit

Thumb Sucking – Help your child break the habit

Thumb sucking can be a difficult habit for a child to break. Understand what you can do to help your child stop sucking his or her thumb.

A very common phenomenon for parents to deal with is thumb sucking of their kids. Literally, it is the most annoying habit, usually found in pre-schoolers. But on the other side, kids find comfort in thumb sucking. It is also often noticed that an associated habit goes with the primary habit. Like holding a blanket or twirl their hair.

Why do some children suck their thumbs?

Babies find thumb sucking soothing, they have natural rooting and sucking reflexes for which they put their fingers into their mouth. Some kids may eventually create this habit when they are upset, tired, bored or otherwise not involved with any other activity.

What to do about it?

There isn’t any magic trick to stop children sucking their thumb. In most of the cases, babies stop the habit, sometimes sooner or a little later, at the age of 3 to 4 years. If a habit continues beyond a time, then you can try the following techniques:

A few techniques to break the habit:

  • Kind Reminders. It should be done very kindly. Whenever you see your child’s thumb in his mouth, ask him to stop but in a very kind and gentle manner. Never make him or her feel that thumb sucking is an attention-getting behavior.
  • Positive Reinforcement. This is very important to praise your child on every small activity; this will boost up their confidence level. For example, give them an extra time from the routine activities or take them out to the park and so on.
  • Other Activities. Involve you child with some other activities such as playing with their toys, building a tower with their blocks or so on.
  • Sometimes your dentist may refer you to pathologists to try behavioral techniques to stop this habit.
  • Aversive Treatment. It is the least considered option to stop your child sucking thumb. Examples include covering thumbnail with some bitter substance like vinegar or cover it with bandage.

In addition, if your child’s teeth are severely misaligned, your child’s dentist may install an oral device that prevents the fingers or thumb from putting pressure on the palate or teeth.

What if these techniques don’t work?

In some cases, thumb sucking is exceedingly difficult habit to break. Therefore patience is the key here. Pressurizing your child to stop thumb sucking may spoil more than improve.