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Parenting 101_ All You Need to Know About Thumb Sucking

By July 16, 2019 No Comments

When you notice that your child has developed a set of behaviors that can have a long-lasting impact on their lives, oftentimes, you can’t simply ignore it and hope that it will go away. As a parent, you feel responsible to take steps required steps to make sure that they stop engaging in those behaviors. One of the things that young children do that can have a more substantial impact on their lives later on, is thumb sucking. It can force their teeth and jaw structure to be out of alignment, as the As a parent, you feel responsible to take steps. When they continue to suck on their thumb far beyond the time that they should, the act may cause the roof of their mouth to cave in or become narrow, leading to a plethora of other issues.

If you’re looking to stop your child’s thumb sucking behavior, here’s our guide for you:

Why Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?

Children often find comfort in sucking on something, as it may remind them of the sensation of breastfeeding, which is always associated with a positive experience. Therefore, when the child is stressed, bored, angry, or having a negative reaction to a stimulus, they may resort to thumb sucking as a way to relieve that pressure. Thumb sucking is normal from birth to when the child is about three years old, but if it’s not dealt with, it can persist to become a lasting habit even during adulthood. 

Should I Get Involved?

You should intervene and prevent thumb sucking when the baby’s teeth start to come in, as that’s when dental and skeletal problems can start occurring. This is around 6 months old – however sucking is within normal limits until about age 2. If your child hasn’t stopped sucking their thumb at the age of three, it’s time for you to get involved.

What Can I Do to Prevent That Habit?

Now that you have some fundamental ideas about thumb sucking behavior, here are three methods to minimize and prevent the habit from becoming one that lasts: 

  1. Focus on Positive Reinforcement

When your child starts to shy away from thumb sucking, you want to reinforce that behavior by praising them right away. This will give the child a feedback loop that they will then associate with positivity, which will help to build a long-lasting habit. When you use punishment to stop a habit, it will increase the shame and defiance around the behaviour and may increase risk

of that behavior coming back, so you should never try to punish your child for sucking their thumb.

  1. Identify the Trigger of That Behavior

As mentioned, there’s often a trigger for why your child sucks their thumb. If you can identify that trigger and minimize it, you will see a significant reduction in the thumb sucking habit. For example, if your little one is feeling stressed or bored, you can give him or her fiddle toys, play dough, slime or sensory toys to play with instead, as that will take their mind away from the thumb sucking.

  1. Gentle Reminders Go a Long Way

Once your child starts to show a significant reduction in thumb sucking frequency, it’s often a sign that they have learned a new association, but it’s possible that they may still do it unintentionally. You can use a gentle reminder to notify them of what they are doing so that they stop sucking their thumb voluntarily.

We’re a thumb sucking clinic that helps to resolve addictive sucking among toddlers – get in touch today to see how we can help!