- September 18, 2013
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Two out of my three kids have been thumb suckers. For the most part, I prefer it over pacifiers. For one, rarely did my kids suck their thumbs while out in public. I know that is not always the case, but it was for us. Come bedtime however and all bets were off. Those thumbs went straight into their cute little mouths. It was adorable. Sadly, there comes a time when sucking the thumb becomes a bad habit. The key word there is habit. Sucking the thumb doesn’t mean anything about a child’s intelligence, or behavior.
My daughter, our oldest, was super easy to get to break the thumb sucking habit. All we had to do was ask her to stop. My youngest however is proving to be a challenge. Slowly but surely we are making strides.
Here are the steps we have taken to get the job done.
First and foremost, we had to wait until he was ready. Honestly I think this is the hardest step. You’ll know when s/he can appropriately respond to positive and negative discipline. That’s the time when behaviors can be modified.
Next we noticed that he was only sucking his thumbs at certain times, like when he was tired, or holding his blanket. Therefore we did our best to get him in bed on time, and only allowed his blanket in his bed. This was a difficult transition, but we did it. Taking care of those things helped to get the day time thumb sucking completely eradicated. We were able to do this by his second birthday.
Night time thumb sucking has proven more difficult. I find that he does it without knowing most of the time. My pediatrician assured me that most kids grow out of it on their own by around five years old, before it becomes a huge problem for the their teeth. Still, I was hoping to make the transition sooner, and easier.
To work on this new skill, we talk about it. We talk about why he sucks his thumb, and what he can choose to do instead. Mind you, he is almost four, so he is able to understand what I’m talking about. Younger kids may not get what you’re trying to talk to them about. Reward nights that your child can go without sucking. All it takes is one night for your child to gain some confidence. At this point you can always remind them that they have done it before. With a little effort and confidence from you, your child will kick the habit.
Filed in: Parents