How to Stop your Childs Thumb Sucking Habit

Thumb sucking in children seems pretty natural but if the habit goes on beyond a certain age, then as a parent you should be concerned and find a way to stop it.

Thumb sucking often comforts your child especially after a bout of crying or when they want to sleep, but this innocent looking habit has many disadvantages if not stopped.

Why do children suck their thumbs?

Before you begin to tackle the problem, as a parent you need to first of all understand why your child is sucking their thumb. For most children it is  natural reflex action that begins right when they are still in their mother’s womb and simply continue with the habit even after being born.

Children will often want to suck their toys and other objects around them when growing up. The habit should stop as the child grows up and starts to get familiar with their environment and gets occupied with other activities such as playing, discovering how things work and much more.

Children will suck their thumbs as way to soothe themselves which often leads them to fall asleep and before you know it, thumb sucking becomes a habit for the child.
While thumb sucking may have a few positive things about it, it can also be a hindrance to your child’s teeth development.

The following tips will help you to stop your child from thumb sucking

1. Talk to the child

One of the easiest ways to get your child to stop thumb sucking is by having a chat with the child about the habit. Make the child realize that he/she has now grown too old to continue with the habit, start to share with your child about becoming more mature and why thumb sucking should be left to the babies which he/she is no longer a baby.

Every child likes to be considered grown up and if you can make  child realize that unless he/she drops the habit, he/she will still be considered a baby. This will challenge the child to drop the habit faster so that he/she is not considered a baby anymore.

2. Ask the child to list things that are past his/her age

One of the ways to get your child to drop the thumb sucking habit is to ask her/him to mention a list of things or habits he/she no longer does because she/he has now grown up.

If the child does not list thumb sucking then remind the child that he/she should have listed it as well since he/she is no grown up and thumb sucking is for babies. This is a good way of telling the child indirectly that they should stop thumb sucking.

3. Distract the child

You can weaken the thumb sucking habit by engaging your child in activities that will require the child to use both hands. You can have the child read a book or play a game that requires him /her to use both hands as a way of stopping them from thumb sucking.

4. Try using an authoritative figure

It helps when a child hears it from the Dentist or Pediatrician why thumb sucking is bad for the child. Sometimes a child will listen to the advise of a professional better than to their parents because they believe everything the Dentist will tell him/her and stop the thumb sucking habit.

5. Use the child’s friends

Another approach to addressing the problem is by having your child’s friends come over for a sleep over. Having friends who don’t suck their thumbs will help the child to drop the habit.

You can ask one the friends to start a topic about thumb sucking and how is strictly for babies. This conversation will help your child to drop the habit. This kind of talk will prompt the child to seriously think about stopping the thumb sucking habit and consider it as an embarrassment especially for their age.

6. Avoid being confrontational

When asking your child to stop thumb sucking, do it in a non confrontational way. Promise the child your support when they stop thumb sucking, this will help the child understand that you are ready to help the him/her to drop this habit.

Criticizing the child when he/she sucks their thumb might help instead the child might turn it into a comfort zone. When a child realizes that you are offering the child help then this will motivate the child to stop the habit.

7. Come up with creative ways to stop the habit

Use the cartoon characters that your child loves to watch and ask him/her is they think Winnie the Pooh sucks their thumb. This conversation will get the child thinking seriously.

Introduce a reward system for the child if they don’t suck their thumbs for a whole day. You can have a chart drawn up with the days of the week and add comments and stars when the child sucks or doesn’t suck their thumbs. Praise your child when they pass the test, this will motivate the child to drop the thumb sucking habit.

8. Use aversive means

If all has failed then your last card is to use other means such as applying vinegar on the thumb when the child is asleep or a thumb guard as a way to stop the child from thumb sucking. Putting a sock or glove over the thumb when the child is asleep will overtime help the child to drop the habit.