Why Do Kids Suck Their Thumbs?
Thumb Sucking is a habit that most of the kids have. Kids suck their thumb because it is soothing and comforting for them. In many cases, children begin Thumb Sucking in their mother’s womb and this is something that can be easily seen on ultrasounds. Thumb Sucking begins when the child is a newborn and as the child grows with time in most cases the habit goes away but in some cases babies continue thumb sucking even when they start going to school. Some kids suck their thumb when they are bored, tired, or anxious.
When Does Thumb Sucking Become A Problem?
The pressing question is when does Thumb Sucking become a problem? While in many cases this habit goes away on its own by the time the kid is 5-6 years of age, in some cases the child is not able to get rid of this habit. This then becomes a problem as when the child goes to school, the child becomes a target of bullying and joke from their peers and fellow children. This severely dents their confidence and the kid feels as if they are inferior to their counterparts in some way or the other. This makes the kid more withdrawn and takes them away from community. In some cases, thumb sucking leads to skin blisters due to the vigorous nature of thumb sucking.
Ways to Get Rid of Thumb Sucking
While thumb sucking may go away on its own, in some cases it requires a special role to be played by the parents in order for their child to get rid of the habit of thumb sucking. Some of the ways that a parent can help their kid get rid of thumb sucking habit are:
The parents need to speak to their child about their worries due to their habit of thumb sucking. It has been proved time and again that kids understand better when they are told something not to do.
Getting rid of thumb sucking is not an easy job but the parents may utilize reward approach for the child. For example, the parent may tell the child that if he or she does not suck their thumb for two hours then he or she may earn a trip to the nearby park or play zone. This will encourage the child to avoid thumb sucking and eventually get rid of this habit.
The parents may also put limits to thumb sucking. They can tell the child that they can suck their thumb only at bedtime and nowhere else than that. This may also work and eventually help the child to get rid of the habit of thumb sucking.
The parents can also provide a good alternative to thumb sucking as habits are difficult to get rid of if a proper alternative is not found to cope with it. The parents can provide the child a fidget or something of that sort to squeeze which may provide them the same comfort as thumb sucking.
It is also quite helpful to make your child recognize the habit of thumb sucking. Making them aware that what they are doing is not good as sometimes children resort to thumb sucking subconsciously and when they are reminded they stop doing it. Constant reminders may go a long way to help the child get rid of thumb sucking.
Consulting a dentist and having a counseling session with a dentist may also help the child get rid of the habit. The dentist may tell the child that once their milk teeth fall out and if they continue with thumb sucking the new teeth may not be aligned properly and they may not look good. This tends to make the child aware of the consequences and may help the child get rid of the habit of thumb sucking.
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Thumb Sucking: Help Your Child Break the Habit. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/thumb-sucking/art-20047038
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Thumbsucking: What it Means for Your Child’s Teeth. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Thumbsucking-What-It-Means-for-Your-Childs-Teeth.aspx
- NHS. (2021). Tips to Help Your Child Stop Thumb or Finger Sucking. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/thumb-sucking/
- WebMD. (2021). How Can I Get My Child to Stop Sucking His Thumb? https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/stop-thumb-sucking
- Pediatric Dental Associates. (2021). Thumb Sucking: How to Help Your Child Stop. https://www.pediatric-dental.com/blog/thumb-sucking-how-to-help-your-child-stop
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