Thumb Sucking: Tips To Help Your Child To Get Rid Of This

Jan 15, 2015: Thumb sucking is a common habit among children. You felt adorable watching your baby fall asleep each night, those sweet, sleepy sighs, his thumb tucked gently into the comforting nook of his mouth. But when she start walking, talking and growing into a preschooler, the thumb sucking has passed “cute” and headed straight toward “worrisome.”

But don’t worry, we are here to help you. We know that thumb sucking can be a difficult habit for a child to break. But nothing is impossible… even impossible is I-M-POSSIBLE…

More To Know About Thumb Sucking…

=> Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes, which can cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths – sometimes even before birth.

=> Because thumb sucking is soothing to babies, some might eventually develop a habit of thumb sucking when they’re bored, tired or anxious.

=> Many children who suck their thumbs or fingers do so while holding a treasured object, such as a security blanket.

=> Many children stop sucking their thumbs on their own sometime during the toddler years – between ages 2 and 4. For older kids who continue to suck their thumbs, peer pressure at school usually ends the habit.

=> Remember, though, even a child who’s stopped sucking his or her thumb might revert to the behavior when he or she is stressed or anxious.

=> Thumb sucking isn’t usually a concern until a child’s permanent teeth come in. At this point, thumb sucking might begin to affect the roof of the mouth (palate) or how the teeth line up, especially if the thumb sucking is aggressive.

When Should You Consider Stepping In…

=> Your child sucks his or her thumb frequently or aggressively after age 4 or 5.

=> The thumb sucking is causing dental problems, such as the upper front teeth tipping toward the lip.

=> Your child is embarrassed about the thumb sucking.

What Can You Do To Help Your Child To Get Rid Of This…

=> In some cases, paying no attention to thumb sucking is enough to stop the behavior — especially if your child uses thumb sucking as a way to get attention.

=> Praise your child or provide small rewards such as an extra bedtime story or a trip to the park when he or she isn’t thumb sucking. Place stickers on a calendar to record the days when your child successfully avoids thumb sucking.

=> If your child sucks his or her thumb in response to stress, identify the real issue and provide comfort in other ways such as a hug or reassuring words. You might also give your child a pillow or stuffed animal to squeeze.

=> If your child sucks his or her thumb without thought rather than as a way to get your attention, gently remind him or her to stop. Don’t scold, criticize or ridicule your child. To spare embarrassment in front of others, you might alert your child to the thumb sucking with a special hand signal or other private cue.

=> Positive reinforcement is generally more effective than negative reinforcement. Resist the temptation to use aversive techniques, such as covering your child’s thumbnail with vinegar or another bitter substance.

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