How to Stop Thumb Sucking


The biggest concern with thumb sucking comes when your child’s permanent teeth grow in. Thumb sucking is very common in children, and it isn’t always a concern until children become 4 or 5.

Aggressive thumb sucking can cause damage to the roof of the mouth, as well as hinder the growth of the permanent teeth. Thumb sucking can also cause alignment problem in teeth. Additionally, they may eventually be bullied by other children for continuing this habit in later years.

How can we break this habit?
As with breaking any habit, you must take care to move at an encouraging and not forceful pace. Here are some tips to breaking the thumb sucking habit:

  • Discovering Triggers
    Thumb sucking in children is usually triggered by something, often related to anxiety or stressors. By discovering what triggers your child’s thumb sucking, you can help combat it by helping your child find other coping mechanisms or help avoid particular stressors. This is a key part as a parent to help break this habit.
  • Ignoring It
    Sometimes it can go away by just ignoring the problem. Focusing on it too much can cause children to become self-conscious, or even worse, is only performing this act to gain your attention. Try ignoring the problem for a little bit to see how this plays out. Plus, by ignoring it you teach your child it’s not a big deal and they may move onto another calming method.
  • Be Reasonable
    Your child is not going to stop overnight. You cannot bully a child out of this habit or just simply tell them not to do it. You can’t put bandages on their fingers, or something else to obstruct this habit as some bittering agents seems cruel and excessive. You can set limits on it, like only allowing it at home and not in public. You can also put a reward system in place, promising a reward after earning enough stickers from not thumb sucking, for instance.
  • Talk to a Dentist
    A dentist can be a huge help here. A dentist can help a child truly understand any complications they may cause themselves by sucking their thumbs. They may even be able to show pictures to how thumb sucking can damage their teeth. It would also help to warn them that braces often are needed in children who are aggressive thumb suckers.

Thumb sucking is not some tragic habit, nor is it an unbreakable one. With support from their parents, a child can overcome this with little problems and complications. You can kindly remind your child if you catch them doing it, but try not to sound as if you are scolding them or trying to purposely embarrass them. Just remember, like anything else that comes with parenting, it takes a little extra patience and love.


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