A kid will grow out of sucking her thumb. some patience, kind words and creative ways to distract them away from it is needed.
We were out for an evening drive. As our car crossed a cab, I noticed a girl sitting on her mother’s lap with her thumb right inside her mouth, gleefully sucking on it with not a care in the world. And she was definitely more than seven-eight years old! Thumb sucking at this age? Thumb sucking at any age? Why?
An infant or a toddler does it because she is trying to adjust to a new situation or an environment (first time in school). Or is hungry. Or maybe plain sleepy and tired and needs to soothe itself. Most pediatrics agree that thumb sucking calms and comforts the child. It made me very happy to read a report that said that thumb sucking is uncommon in situations where the mother tends to hold her baby for long periods or otherwise keeps it in physical contact with her body throughout its early years.
Had my baby done it, honestly, I would not have worried about it for the first couple of years of her life (thankfully she saved me a lot of tension by never putting her thumb into her mouth!). But post that, it would definitely make me anxious.
The ADA (American Dental Association)mentions that all thumb-sucking is not a problematic one. It’s when the intensity of the sucking is high that the probability of teeth deformity, lisps and braces (at a later age) comes into play.
I have heard of funny and almost atrocious things (mittens on the hand, taping the thumb, applying chilly powder on the thumb etc.) that parents resort to, to stop this habit. But they rarely work . In fact, experts discourage parents from trying to stop a child’s thumb sucking before she demonstrates that she is ready to stop. Primarily because kids love to do exactly what they are told not to do (and do it more when extra pressure is put on them). Also, most often than not, there will be relapse when trying to get a kid to give up thumb sucking. But, we as mothers, just cannot let that anger or frustrate us.
The best solution for thumb sucking that I have heard is from a friend of mine (and the mother of a thumb sucking toddler). The thing to do is to understand when the sucking occurs and to divert her attention by offering an alternative. For example -
1. Hand a finger food to the toddler if its hunger based thumb sucking.
2. If its stress based then maintain a routine. Most toddlers find a structured day less stressful.
The best time to break the habit is when the child is mature enough to understand why she should give up and also when she is not experiencing any stressful change in her life.
But I wonder what the mother of the girl I spoke of in the beginning do. What would I have done?
1. Talk to her about her thumb sucking habit.
2. Make sure I tell her that I understand how hard it is. But that I have the confidence that she can.
3. Offer a reward for all the time she tries and succeeds.
4. “Barbie never sucks her thumb!” I’m sure this phrase would get her back on track.
Creative ways to deal with a situation often works the best! All you mommies out there, are there any that you know of or can think of?
Published in: Family