When Thumb Sucking Isn’t Cute Anymore

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thumb sucking toddler

Rory Mycek is a guest contributor from www.TopDentists.com, the dental resource site of Everyday Health.

Many babies and toddlers choose to suck on their thumb or fingers. After all, some babies have developed this habit while still in the womb! At first it starts out as something that’s comforting to them, calms them down, and it looks cute…because every quiet baby is cute, right? Thumb-sucking only becomes a bad habit once they reach 2 to 4 years old, and then it becomes an issue that parents will need to face. Some parents do get lucky when their children stop on their own when they notice that their young peers aren’t participating in the same behavior.

Now there are nice ways to tackle this issue and not so nice ways, but quite honestly your child may not notice the difference. Let’s focus on some of the nicer ways to help your child stop sucking their thumb:

1. Only let your child suck on their thumb when they are napping or down for the night. This way your child will slowly phase away from sucking on their thumb if they associate this behavior with sleeping.

2. Associate stopping thumb-sucking with growing up. I don’t think I’ve met a child yet who doesn’t “just wants ta be all growned up aweady,” right? If you put this link in their heads they’re one step closer to becoming President of the United States, or a Princess (Sure, why not? Princess is a grown up occupation too).

3. Praise your child with (healthy) treats or activities that they love when they go a night or a whole day without sucking on their thumb. These activities don’t have to be huge activities, but it does encourage them to try to wean themselves off their thumb.

4. Ask your child how you can help them. Maybe all they need is an extra story at bedtime, or would feel more comfortable settling in for the night if you stuck around in their room a bit longer.

5. Just sit back…and wait. Sometimes it just takes children a little longer for them to grow out of a habit.

These tricks should cease the habit, and make sure to just keep encouraging and reinforcing the behavior to stop. If you have a rebellious child in your hands, like I was (I stopped sucking on my fingers when I was 10 years old), you won’t have to deal with the issue anymore and it turns into the orthodontist’s headache. So like every day in life of a parent, “patience is a virtue”.

Comments

  1. Check out Thumbuddy To Love…great product for kids because thumb sucking does not just stop on its own and it is positive and fun reinforcement and kids love it!

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