How to get your Child to Stop Sucking their Thumb

imageDoes your child like to suck their thumb? Have your attempts to stop them been unsuccessful? Remember it is a natural reflex for kids to suck their thumb, fingers or soother. Sucking gives them comfort and security. However thumb sucking can affect your child’s teeth and their development, including their bite and jaw/bone growth. It is best that your child stop sucking as early as possible, however most children stop sucking on their own by age 3. If you still have trouble getting your child to stop, here are some things you can do.

Don’t draw attention to it – Some kids will enjoy the attention given to them about sucking and will continue to do it just to get the attention. Sometimes no attention can lead to no sucking.

Offer Reminders – Be calm and don’t yell. Explain how sucking can affect their teeth. Don’t punish your child or shame them, just encourage them and be patient. It may take time for them to stop. Think of how hard it is for you to stop your “bad” habits including hair twisting, nail biting, knuckle cracking, smoking, etc. Have some sympathy and realize it isn’t as easy as it sounds

Limit Sucking – Only allow the sucking at certain times or places. You make the rules. As they progress you can add more and more limits.

Look for Triggers – Try and determine what is getting your child to suck their thumb. If you notice one activity does it, try and change the activity. When scared or nervous they may be more prone to sucking their thumb. Give them comfort and hugs, reassurance and their favourite toy. Find ways they can get comfort other than by sucking their thumb.

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