Breaking the habit! How to help your child stop sucking their thumb

Some children find sucking their thumb to be a real comfort to them and it can therefore be a pretty tough habit to break - I know a certain 21 year old who is still known to occasionally suck her thumb after a tough day! ( Not a good look by the way..!)

“Thumbs the world!” Did you know many children begin life as a thumb sucker in the womb as a comforting action. Once they are born, the act of thumb sucking itself releases endorphins, performing in much the same way as a dummy does. So your little one is using their thumb to self soothe. Many children stop by around 4- 5 years old , but for others it can continue for quite some time, making it a far harder habit to break.

Thumb vs dummy? You can’t lose a thumb, but on the other hand you can’t just take it away either!

Words Up! Thumb sucking becomes more of a concern if it starts to interfere with your little ones speech. If it obstructs him or her forming words. It is very important not to allow your child to speak with the thumb in their mouth, but to ensure it is take out when they are speaking.

So here are some tips to help your little one wave bye bye to their little attachment! 

Establishing a pattern - does your little one suck theIr thumb more when they are tired, is it just towards bedtime or all day? If it is happening a lot during the day, try and see if you can gradually get them to reduce this, as it will have an effect on how much they need to suck their thumb at night.

Break the rule of thumb! If you notice they suck their thumb more because they are tired, then try allowing them a longer nap or try putting them down sightly earlier. If it happening because your little one is upset or cross, try encouraging then to express what is wrong, rather than turning to their thumb.

Distraction is key! When you do see your child with their thumb in their mouth, try offering them a distraction, for example get them to hold the book with you if it is happening at story time or a ball or toy to play with, for example.

Give them the bigger picture! Talk about older brothers or sisters, cousins or friends who don’t suck their teeth as they are all getting bigger and more grown up.

Talk Teeth! Tell them how important it is for them to allow their teeth to grow in the right place and sometimes sucking their thumb can affect how the teeth will grow. But don’t panic and try to be patient, as most dentists agree, no real damage will be done until your child’s permanent teeth start to form- normally around 6 years old.

Have you any tips on how to stop thumb sucking? Pleas share and let us know.

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