When it comes to thumb and finger sucking, everyone seems to have an opinion. So let’s dive into busting some of the most common myths surrounding thumb sucking habits in children.


  • All kids who suck their fingers and thumbs have emotional problems

It is a myth that every child who sucks their thumb has an emotional problem. Many children use their sucking as a coping mechanism to deal with pain, discomfort, to self regulate or settle. This is normal and while it will take some time for children’s behaviour to adjust when they stop sucking their thumb, they should eventually learn to regulate their behaviour without it. However, if you notice your child needs their sucking to cope in their world, it is important to investigate further and may need to be referred to a child psychologist or paediatrician to overcome emotional difficulties.

  • It’s the parent’s fault

If there is one myth I hate the most, it is this one! As infants, the first contact babies have with sucking is first in the womb, and then in the breast to drink breast milk. Thumb sucking is a chemical party for kids, releasing dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which create feelings of relaxation and “feel good.” There are very few ways to mimic this amazing sensation, so children who become attached to sucking as they get older still get a physiological payoff every time they do it. Therefore, often when parents try to intervene and discipline their child over the sucking, it can worsen. By the time parents get to Thumbsucking Professionals, they usually have tried every trick in the book to stop the sucking. Don’t blame yourself, blame the chemical fix!

  • Stop kids sucking as early as possible

Before 12 months, mouthing is normal and we need to provide optimum opportunities for kids to suck and chew on appropriate toys. By doing this, babies grow into young toddlers that have had optimal oral experiences and sucking habits lapse. At the age of 4 to 5 years old, children are bright and receptive and are often ready to stop their sucking. This is the best time to work with your child to break your child’s thumb sucking habits. 

Click here to read how to initiate the conversation with your child about their thumb sucking habit.

  • It’s just defiance

It is true that children who suck are often highly emotional, extremely intelligent little people. But surprisingly, often the act of defiance and continued sucking is because the children themselves don’t know how to stop.

  • It’s such a cute little phase

It isn’t always just a cute little habit. It can cause issues with jaw and facial development, teeth positioning and function of the muscle. The biggest concern with digit sucking is that it results in improper tongue and lip rest postures and functions in childhood which influences how the child’s face and jaws develop.

Read more about the impact thumb sucking can have on the oral structure.

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