Nov 11, 2010

How to Stop Thumb Sucking?

Many kids find immense succour when they suck their finger or thumb. ‘How to stop thumb sucking?’ is one query that constantly bothers parents of kids who employ such soothing mechanisms. Most kids generally forego the habit when they are 4-5 years of age – the time when they develop self-consciousness & are not keen on their peers seeing them doing it.

However a novel trial printed in the ‘American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics’ indicates that habit breaking must be occurring earlier since study scientists believe that excessive use of pacifiers & thumb sucking post-two years of age could cause lasting dental issues among preschool goers like overbite or openbite – irregular spacing in-between teeth in lower and upper jaw.

In case your kid is 2-3 years of age and yet continues to suck his/her thumb, here are prudent pointers on how to stop thumb sucking?

Habit Breaking Step I – Timing it Appropriately

A time should be chosen when the child would not be faced with any new-fangled stress inducing situations (such as a novel preschool, novel baby-sitter or new sister/brother in the picture). One could additionally be watchful about the following indications of your child’s willingness:

  • The kid is capable of practicing some extent of self-restraint.
  • The kid understands the notion of time.
  • The kid is able to comprehend cause-effect associations, such as how thumb sucking could be causal to dental issues.
Habit Breaking Step II – Motivating Your Little One

Kids should feel stirred to give up their thumb sucking habit to make any endeavour a success. Your kids could be enthused by explicating to them the reason for him/her ceasing the habit. One could even try:

  • Showing the kid his/her orifice in a reflecting surface and expounding to them how the habit could harm their teeth.
  • Showing the child any malformation or callus formations on his/her fingers which have arisen as a result of sucking them.
  • Enlightening the child about how thumb sucking is the easiest way for harmful microbes gaining entry into the body via hands to the oral area, hence augmenting the child’s chances of developing infection and falling ill.
Habit Breaking Step III – Using a Rewarding mechanism

Mini spurs would help in encouraging the kid in adhering to his/her quit sucking agenda. Begin with a day-to-day rewarding system for not engaging in the habit such offering some sticker or smallish toy. No sooner has the kid started showing progress start charting long-standing objectives. For an entire seven days sans thumb sucking gift the child a visit to the ice-cream parlour; a fortnight sans the habit would entitle the child to better rewards such a night-out for a movie with his/her buddies.

How to stop thumb sucking – Additional Pointers for Successful Quitting
  • Deploying ocular aide-memoirs such as brightly coloured band-aids for keeping the kid resolute on ceasing the habit.
  • Covering the kid’s hand with mittens or gloves during nights for preventing him/her from thumb-sucking while asleep.
  • Providing a calm and soothing surrounding for assisting the kid is dozing off during nights sans resorting to thumb sucking.
  • Planning some activity which would help in keeping the kid occupied such as some puzzle, colours and arts-crafts project.

  • Patience, consistency and focus are the three golden virtues to help your kid smooth sail out of this habit. It is finally up to the child to give up the habit.
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