How to Stop a Child from Sucking Their Thumb

child thumb sucking

Thumb sucking is a bad habit, but it’s a choice that many infants and small children make to soothe themselves. However, after a particular age, like three, it is time to break that bad habit. You want to be gentle and reassuring when implementing strategies; the objective is to help your child give up the practice without using fear or negative steps. Below are some tips to use when trying to stop a child from sucking his thumb.

Talk it Out

One of the first steps to try is talking things out with your child to find out why she loves the bad habit. Providing her with words of encouragement and motivation could help her stop sucking her thumb. It would be an excellent idea to share information about the unhealthy habit during the talks based on your child’s comprehension skills. Remember to be honest, but find less drastic ways to make a significant point. For example, when speaking about cold and flu germs, explain to your child that sucking on her thumb could carry germs to the mouth and cause sickness, like a sore throat or cold, or lead to dental issues that increase the risk of braces and other procedures. However, it would be best if you never used examples that will scar your child.

Anti-Thumb Sucking Devices

Anti-thumb sucking devices are a cost-effective option for instances where other measures fail to work. For many parents, these devices are key to figuring out how to stop thumb sucking without resorting to punishment. These tools can increase success probability while reducing the amount of time or money you spend on the bad habit. A suitable device should be easy to use and doesn’t have to cover the hands or mouth, which are challenging for kids to keep on. Arm sleeve devices can make it difficult for your child to suck his thumb without disrupting his ability to play during the day or take naps.

Pay Close Attention

Some children suck on their thumbs at specific times during the day, such as naps and bedtime. It would help if you knew when your child sucked her thumb so you can provide an alternative coping strategy, such as listening to soft music or watching her favorite television show until she falls asleep. In some instances, children suck their thumbs to stay up and stave off rest, which is why you may need to try an option without noises, such as laying your daughter on a cool pillow or using a warm blanket to cover her up at night and during naps.

Create a Reward System

Make sure your tips on how to stop thumb sucking include positivity, as opposed to negative actions. Your child will not feel safe and secure if you are yelling or constantly pointing out his mishaps. However, if you establish a reward system and congratulate him when he goes a few minutes or days without sucking his thumb, your son may be less reluctant to give up the bad habit. For example, you can create a board and place stickers on it each time your son goes a couple of weeks without sucking his thumb. Another reward would be to treat him to frozen yogurt, a movie, or allow him to purchase a toy on his wish list.

Use Gentle Reminders

There is nothing wrong with reminding your daughter to take her thumb out before she begins sucking on it. In some cases, children start sucking simply out of boredom and not logical thinking. Therefore, a gentle reminder could be just what your child needs to stop. Other reminders could be photo notes on the chalkboard in her playroom or reminders next to her snacks in the living room. A picture with the word NO next to a thumb could be humorous to your child but persuasive.

Every kid is different, and what works for your neighbors, family, and friends’ children may not be successful for your daughter. When trying some of the tips mentioned above, stick with the options that work best for your child. Regardless of what strategy you choose, it is best to start early before your daughter experiences issues like crooked teeth and speech difficulties due to thumb sucking.

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