weebly statistics
Home About Links Contacts Show Show

My 6 Year Quit Sucking His Thumb!

by Amelia on November 19, 2009
category: 3 – 5 years (preschooler),5 – 12 years (kid)

DSC_0155 My 6 year recently lost his second tooth.  With the new tooth growing in I became more aware that his thumb sucking really needed to come to an end. Once he started losing teeth I started seeing $$dollar signs$$ about future dental visits and braces and it was very tempting to try and have a more tight fisted attitude about him quitting.  I casually mentioned to him that his teeth would start growing in incorrectly if he kept sucking his thumb and that it was probably a good idea to stop.  He said “okay” and we came up with a plan.  I don’t have a formal chart but we have decided to let him have a special fizzy or juice drink on the weekend if he keeps the thumb out of the mouth during the week.

He started sucking his thumb when he was a baby–around 2 or 3 months old.  As he got a little older, his pattern for sucking his thumb was to hold his blankie, rub the satin on his nose and suck his thumb at the same time.  I was worried that maybe we would have to get rid of his blankie and all things satin since for him, seeing satin was a Pavlovian response: see/touch satin=suck thumb.  He was never the type who would just walk around with his thumb in his mouth or do activities while thumbsucking.  If he got bored he would go to his bed and have some “blankie/thumbsucking time”.  Sometimes, but not always he would suck his thumb before falling asleep.

519TA68D0ML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_ I think it worked to our favor that we read this book several times when we checked it out from the library: Laurie Keller’s Open Wide: Tooth School Inside. If you have not read this book to your kids I do recommend it.  Our kids learned all about cavities and germs and tooth care from this book.  Laurie Keller has some really GREAT books that our kids LOVE–they have made them giggle and laugh many times.  I digress.

We asked the 6 year old if he could still rub satin on his nose and hold his blankie without sucking his thumb and he said he really thought he could. (Blankie will go away another day). We gave it a try and he did it.  Easy peazy-lemon squeezy as he would say.

I know that getting children to stop sucking their thumbs is not always that easy.  I have a good friend who made a chart for her son while he was in training not to suck his thumb.  He was more inclined to suck him thumb while watching tv or when he was bored.  He didn’t have a pavlovian cue like mine did.  He gets a marshmallow at the end of the day if he succeeds.  Behavior charts seem to work well for kids who are learning how to stop sucking their thumbs.

In general when it comes to behavior change positive rewards work much better than shame and anger.  When it comes time for our 5 year old to stop sucking his thumb I think it won’t be quite as easy.  He is like his brother in that he likes to snuggle with his blankie and suck his thumb but he seems more attached to it than the 6 year old.  Perhaps waiting until he is 6 will make a big difference to him and he will find it as easy as his brother.

Tips for helping children stop sucking their thumbs:

  • Behavior and reward charts
  • Praise when you see them succeed (catch them doing something right!!)
  • Don’t yell or nag
  • Remember that peer/social pressures can work to your advantage. Once your children are school age and notice that their friends don’t suck their thumbs they want to less and less.
  • If you find they suck more when bored keep a list or box of special activities to do when boredom strikes.
  • Stay positive yourself and tell them you know they can do it.
  • You can try the gross tasting stuff you paint on the thumb or a thumb guard to help if other methods haven’t worked.

Have any thumbsuckers at your house?  What’s worked for you?  Disasters? How old were your kids when they stopped thumbsucking?

7 Responses to My 6 Year Quit Sucking His Thumb!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Heather
    November 19, 2009 @ 7:55 am

    We tried just about everything to get my daughter (3 1/2 yrs) to stop sucking her thumb. She was not motivated by any reward we offered her until I came across Piggy Paint. Piggy Paint is a non-toxic nail polish. I told her I would paint her nails like a big girl but she would have to stop sucking her thumb or else she would mess up the paint. We made a big production out of picking out her favorite color of Piggy Paint. When it arrived in the mail we had special mommy/daughter time as I painted her nails pink. As I painted I told her what a big girl she was and how she should keep her nails looking pretty as a princess. She was so proud of her pink nails that she couldn’t bear the thought of messing them up. She quit sucking her thumb cold turkey! I couldn’t believe it!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Breanna
    November 19, 2009 @ 8:01 am

    I have one thumb sucker. He’s three at the moment and I’ve always wondered what I needed to do to get him to stop and when and this is really helpful!

  • Comment by Amelia
    November 19, 2009 @ 8:13 am

    Heather–that is a GREAT story!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Andrea
    November 19, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

    Another great book that comes with a thump puppet and success calandar is called Thumbuddy To Love. It really helped my son quit thumb sucking.

  • Comment by Amanda
    November 19, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    Thanks. My daughter sucks her two fingers upside down while holding her ear with the other hand. Now she sticks her other hand down the front of her diaper while she sucks her fingers! Not great to do in public. My pediatrician said she would grow out of it, but I am still trying to discourage the hand down the front of her pants!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Angela
    November 20, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    My kids love the Tooth School book. We check it out often from the library- they have it on CD with the book to follow along. It’s very entertaining!

    My daughter sucked her two middle fingers so much that she caused them to blister. We had to tape them up with band-aids so they would heal. She did not enjoy sucking her fingers with bandaids so she didn’t. When the band-aids came off, her fingers were healed, and the sucking habit was broken! Surprise!

    I also heard of a mom who told her son that if he didn’t stop sucking his thumb it would turn black and fall off. When she saw him sucking his thumb during the day, she waited until he fell asleep and took a Sharpie and made a little black mark on his thumb. You can imagine the rest of the story. He was cured!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Shay
    February 14, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    My daughter is 11. She just recently quit sucking her thumb. How I got her to stop was i quit smoking. We picked the same day and did it together.

Leave a comment


Blog Ads: