Why Learning How to Stop Thumb Sucking Is Important

Thumb sucking is a habit that many children can develop even while they are still in the womb and most will stop on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. It’s a natural thing to do and is comforting just like nursing or drinking from a bottle is. The habit is harmless in young children and babies and many experts say to not worry about stopping thumb sucking unless the habit persists past 4 years of age. Since a child’s jaw bone is relatively soft until about age 8, thumb sucking can cause structural damage to the jaw and growing teeth.

The force of sucking and the thumb pressing out on the teeth can cause the child to develop an overbite, buck teeth, and even speech impediments such as not being able to say their D’s and T’s. Also the constant friction and exposure to moisture can cause the thumb to develop callouses or get severely chapped and painful. If your child does not stop sucking their thumb on their own, the good news is that there is a lot of information on how to stop thumb sucking and methods to try so that you’ll be sure to find one that works for you.

There are thumb sucking guards that you can find that are plastic and fit over the child’s thumb. Other thumb guards also come in fabric and look like a glove for just the thumb and fasten comfortably around the wrist. When the child starts to suck their thumb, the thumb guard will remind them not to. You can also paint your child’s thumb with harmless flavors such as vinegar, pickle juice, or other flavors that your child dislikes. Explain to them that you are helping them break the habit and why its important they learn how to stop sucking thumb.

If the child is old enough, explain how the habit can cause damage to their teeth and jaw so that they understand how important it is that they break the habit. Get them involved in figuring out what to do to stop thumb sucking. Develop a chart that helps your child see their progress. Give them a sticker for each day that they resist the urge. Use praise and never scold as this will most likely cause an increase in the habit.

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