Thumb Sucking - Health Center

Thumb Sucking

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Thumb Sucking - Overview

It is not uncommon to see a child suckling his thumb. Often parents do not tend to discourage the habit, however, at one point, they think that this is enough! It is recommended to nip the habit in the bud and to make sure that this habit is discouraged since the very beginning.

Children tend to suck in their thumb as per their natural reflexes. This habit proves to be very soothing for the children and they tend to develop this habit while they are anxious or bored. Most of the children tend to get rid of this habit on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. However, in other children, this needs to be discouraged.

Thumb sucking is not a huge issue until the permanent teeth of the child come in. However, if this is not discouraged, then it can affect the roof of the palate and can affect the formation of the teeth as well. Parents should be intervening in, if the child continues to suck the thumb even after attaining the age of 4 or more. If the thumb sucking causes dental problems, like the tipping of the upper teeth towards the lips, then also the habit should be discouraged.

How to get rid of Thumb Sucking

The following techniques are best used in order to help parents get rid of thumb sucking:

  • Quit mentioning it: If parents stop mentioning thumb sucking, it is one of the best ways to get rid of the habit. In some cases, children use thumb sucking as a way of gaining attention, therefore, the best way is to quit paying any attention to it.
  • Enforcing Positive Reinforcement: Using praise or small rewards is the best possible ways to stop the thumb sucking. Using bedtime stories or little rewards liked by children are the best possible ways of getting rid of the habit.
  • Identifying the trigger factors: In case your child is sucking the thumb as a response to stress, then it is very important to look for and to identify the trigger factors. Once identified, they should be replaced by something which is found comforting by the child.
  • Gentle Reminders: If your child is sucking the thumb in order to get the attention without any thought, then gently remind your child against it. Do not scold, criticize or mock your child.

However, if you are worried about the thumb sucking habit of your child, it is better to check with a dentist. The dentist might recommend a good mouth guard or any other dental appliance to you in order to get rid of the sucking. Positive reinforcement has known to work wonders in case of children afflicted with the habit of thumb sucking. In many cases, peer pressure can be one of the major reasons why children suck their thumb.

However, it is not something that you have to be worried about. If you put too much pressure on your child in order to stop thumb sucking, it will only delay the process furthermore.

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