3 Ways To Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Dr. Ash Sagar

The uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic is a lot for adults to handle. Naturally, some of our children are having a difficult time with all the changes in their lives.

School is closed, they can’t see their friends and parents are stressed. It’s a lot for kids to deal with, and one way you may have noticed them coping is by sucking their thumb.

Thumb sucking is often a subconscious response to stress or boredom and most children stop the habit by their third birthday. It’s a normal part of their development and doesn’t usually indicate a physiological issue. However, if it continues, there can be lasting effects, such as:

  • Open bite
  • Overbite
  • Speech difficulties
  • Skin problems
  • Social pressures

Often thumb sucking is so habitual he or she may not be aware. Simply reminding your child of his or her behavior may be enough to overcome the habit, however, a more deliberate approach may be necessary.

How to Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their thumb

Positive reinforcement – Congratulate your child when you notice that they are not sucking their thumb. A reward system can be a fun way to “gamify” breaking the habit and help your child to feel great about their progress. Make sure to give lots of praise when they succeed.

  • Keep them busy – Busy thumbs don’t have time to find their way into mouths! Puzzles and crafts are a great way to keep those little hands occupied. Consider limiting TV time as children will often subconsciously fall back into their habit relaxing in front of the tube.
  • Self sensory options – If the thumb sucking is sensory-related, you may want to consider tools such as a sensory chew necklace or bracelet. “Chewelry” can provide an alternative to redirect the habit while you work on longer-term solutions.

Sometimes it helps to hear a fresh perspective. If your child’s thumb-sucking habit continues, be sure to mention your concerns on your next visit to us. Our caring team will be happy to chat with you and your child to offer encouragement and advice.

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