How to Stop Your Child from Sucking His Thumb

thumbDo you have a child who sucks his (or her) thumb? Are you stuck trying to break the habit? It’s not like you can take the thumb away, but thumb sucking isn’t something you want to continue for too long. It can begin to cause problems with your child’s teeth. Not to mention the negative social stigma your child will experience if his peers find out he’s a thumb sucker. So you want to break this habit sooner rather than later.

Here are some helpful tips for getting your child to stop sucking his thumb.

Eleven Tips to Stop Thumb Sucking

1. Don’t take your child’s thumb out of his mouth every time you see him doing it. This isn’t going to be helpful in getting him to kick the habit.

2. Do start out by telling him that he can only suck his thumb at bedtime or in his room – it shouldn’t be done in public. And help him figure out other ways to soothe himself when he goes to suck his thumb.

3. Don’t have a battle of wills. If you tell your child that he just can’t suck his thumb anymore, then it won’t likely stop him from doing it.

4. Do praise him when you catch him not sucking his thumb, especially in circumstances where you know he really would like to. He will want to continue getting praised, so he will be more conscious that he’s doing it and stop to get that praise from you.

5. Don’t prevent him from sucking his thumb when he is hurt or injured. He needs that comfort and if you stop him from doing it, then it will only traumatize him more.

6. Do have conversations about your child’s thumb sucking with him. Let him come to you and tell you that he’s ready to stop. It will be much more empowering for him that way and he’ll actually want to do it more because of that.

7. Don’t put bad tasting things on your child’s thumb in order to inhibit him from sucking his thumb. It’s cruel and often times it doesn’t work anyways.

8. Do point out gently that he is sucking his thumb. Often times children don’t even realize when they are doing it, so help him recognize when he’s sucking his thumb. Take the time to talk to him and help him recognize the reason he might be doing it so he can try to deal with his anxieties and fears by talking about them with you instead.

9. Don’t put gloves or mittens on your child’s hand to prevent him from sucking his thumb. It will just frustrate him and likely make him more anxious. Besides, he can probably just remove it anyways.

10. Do help your child see he’s growing up and doesn’t need to suck his thumb anymore. Point out important people in his life like grown family members or maybe an older cousin or sibling and ask if he thinks they suck their thumb. Even ask him about his favorite TV show character to get him to see that when we get older we don’t do the things we did when we were babies anymore.

11. Don’t forget that ultimately this is a developmental milestone. And like any other developmental milestone every child will reach them in his own time. Chances are if you’re patient, loving, and understanding, your child is not going to go off to college sucking his thumb. He’ll stop in his own time.

There you have it, the dos and don’ts of breaking your child of the thumb-sucking habit. Keeping these eleven things in mind should make for a successful try at getting your child to kick the habit.

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