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5 Tips To Help Your Child Stop Thumb-Sucking

Theresa Hissong - Monday, August 15, 2016
First, let's understand why we don't want our children to suck their thumbs. Trust me, when it comes to our babies learning to self-soothe, this habit was an easy win. Unlike a pacifier, it was always attached to them, and they could use it whenever they wanted. Unfortunately, thumb-sucking can actually do some harm to your child's teeth and mouth alignment. 



The earlier you can stop your child from sucking their thumb the better, and here are a few tips to help break the habit:

1 - Praise! Praise! Praise! Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure, or scared. Scolding them will only make them feel more insecure. Instead, give your child a hefty amount of praises when you see them not sucking their thumb.

2 - Try a distraction. If you find that your child's thumb-sucking seems to be more of a nervous habit, try other stimulating activities such as activity books, busy bottles, and texture boards. Encourage the type of play that is age appropriate for your child. You can even try putting a band-aid on your child's thumb, as a reminder to not suck it. 

3 - Offer a reward. If your reward is daily, you can try an extra 30 minutes of TV, their choice of dinner, or staying up an extra 15 minutes later to read a chapter from their favorite book. 

4 - Take note of your child's environment. Due to thumb-sucking often being triggered by a child's insecurities, take note of what's going on in your child's world daily. Whether you're at home, or out and about, if you can limit your child's anxieties, it may help you in your quest to end your child's thumb-sucking habit.

5 - Be patient. Above all else. Some kids drop the habit sooner than others. Stick with what seems to work on a daily basis, and keep the process a positive one. 

The key is trying to end thumb-sucking before your child's permanent teeth come in, so the younger you start in helping them break the habit the better.