How to Stop Your Child from Thumb sucking

How to Stop Your Child from Thumb sucking

Jan 01, 2021

Why do babies suck their thumbs? At a tender age, children have natural suckingreflexes which they can’t avoid. This causes them to involuntarily put their thumbs in the mouth – other times, even before birth.

Since the habit of thumb sucking gives children some sense of security, it might eventually grow into a habit, where they always find the need to such their thumbs whenever they need soothing or when going to sleep.

Many children naturally stop sucking their thumbs by the age of 6 – 7 months andother between ages 2- 4 years. However, even children that have stopped sucking their thumbs can go back to the habit in times of stress.

When Should You Intervene?

Thumb sucking is not a major concern until permanent teeth start to come out. At this point, the hard palate starts to get affected, as well as tooth alignment. Our children dentist says that the risk of developing dental problems due to thumb sucking depends on how often, the duration, and intensity with which your child sucks his/her thumb.

Some experts recommend addressing thumb sucking before age 3, though the American Academy of Pediatrics states that treatment is limited to children who continue to suck after turning 5.

Strategies that Can help my Child Quit Thumb Sucking

If your child does not stop thumb sucking by the age of 5, they might need parental intervention to quit the habit. The following strategieshave been found to work.

Initiate a Dialogue

Some kids fail to realize that thumb sucking is a habit they need to outgrow. In a curious and not in an uncondemning way, ask your child the reason they such their thumb. How does it feel, good? Do they know when you are doing it? Might they need something else like a hug to make them feel the same way?

Learn with Them About Thumb Sucking?

If your child gets much of their life advice from watching shows like Peppa Pig or Daniel Tiger, that’s a resource you might want to tap. You need to watch a TV show where some character needs to break a habit, then discuss with your child about it. You can also read a book together with him/her.

Use Bitter Nail Polish

This is an effective strategy against aggressive nail biters. Using bitter tasting ail polish cab really discourage the thumb sucking habit.

Some children dentists don’t recommend this approach since it’s not the best way to break your child’s habit. It’s however a great strategy for kids who are motivated to stop the habit and need a constant reminder not to thumb-suck. A single taste on the bitter polish can keep them alert.

Check for Thumb-sucking Patterns

If for instance your child sucks his/her thumb during bedtime, you can find another way to sooth the kid down as preparation before sleep. You can have them try a warm cup of milk or a toddler-friendly herbal tea before brushing for bed.

If your kid pops their thumb every time, they are angry, sad or anxious, help them find an alternative coping mechanism, like a mindfulness activity to replace the thumb suckling habit.

Finger Guard

The internet is flooded with many kits, that are tailored to curb your child’s thumb sucking habit. Some are plastic made while others are come as flexible gloves that kids wear on their hands.

An advantage is that these units are chemical-free and childproof, so the kid can’t remove them. Their disadvantage is that they are very visible and your child might find it hard to use their hands to play or feed themselves.

Use of Rewards and Incentives

This is a tricky system to use, because they usually don’t always work, and when they do, it becomes hard to phase the system out. Still, there are kids who are highly thrilled by the visual representation of their advancement, by use of stickers or small tokens. The opportunity for them to win prizes and privileges daily will have them not sucking their thumb.

However, you need to be aware that children, just like adults, will hide up a behavior they are unwilling to give up.

Rules and Boundaries

You need to tell your child that they can only suck their thumb while watching TV or when in bed. This can be a good way to phase out the habit without unnecessary struggle. The child will still do it, but will be needing it less with time.

Visit a Dentist

Your child may respond better when pushed by someone else rather than you. You are advised to make a dental appointment and have a professional talk to your child about the thumb sucking habit. They will also enlighten them on how and the importance of taking care of the teeth.

Many children dental offices have colourful environments and kid-frientluresources.Yur kid might be more responsive when in a dental office than at home.

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