Get them to quit sucking their thumb
November 26, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

If your son or daughter has a temper tantrum when you scold them for sucking their thumb, don´t worry, you´re not the only one. Many kids suck their thumb as it provides immediate soothing at any place and any time. Take a deep breath! There´s no rush. In fact, as their third birthday approaches, they´ll eventually forget all about it. But if that´s not the case, keep reading. Here are some ideas to get them to stop sucking their thumb and drop the pacifier too!

When should you avoid they suck their thumb?

  • If your son or daughter sucks his/her thumb most of the day and night, it could harm their mouth and teeth.
  • If they have difficulty speaking, playing or interacting with other children because their hands are always in their mouth.
  • If the dentist is worried because the habit is generating developmental problems.

If your child is experiencing any of these problems, it´s time to think of a plan of attack.  It won´t be easy so we recommend you not do it alone. Ask the paediatrician, teacher or grandparents to help to reinforce the message.

When they make an effort (not sucking their thumb during a car ride for example) award them. This will be more effective than making negative or embarrassing comments. Also, you can ask them what he or she would like when going to sleep: a teddy bear, a favourite blanket or your soothing hand.

Instead of overwhelming them with sentences such as “Don´t suck your thumb” or “What do you think you are doing?” try coming up with fun distractions such as singing a song together or letting them drink water with a straw. Anything to get them to forget.


Crazy for pacifiers!

Did you give them a pacifier to get rid of the thumb sucking habit? The good news is that it´ll be easier to get them to quit the habit. The key is to limit the use. Let them use it at certain moments but start limiting it – only at home or in the car, before going to bed… Another alternative is to gradually limit the time. From 30 minutes to 2 or 3.

Another option is to “accidentally” lose the pacifier. The pacifier fairy could take it one night because they´re all grown up now. Or simply leave it at home when going to visit grandma.

If none of these ideas work, don´t despair. Give them a bit more time and try it again in a couple of months. If you´d like to read more about pacifiers, we encourage you to read this article here.

What tricks do you use to get your child to stop sucking their thumb?

Photo Credits: Shutterstock


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