Thumb Sucking: How Can you Help your Child Stop this Habit

May 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Baby Problems

how can you help your child stop this habit.Thumb sucking is a common habit among children. Babies have sucking reflexes by which they transition to breast feeding or bottle feeding quickly. Babies have natural rooting which make them put their finger(s) into the mouth, sometimes seen prior to birth too. Few children place their thumb into the mouth, other few put two fingers- index finger and middle finger into the mouth. I’ve observed babies try to put their toe into the mouth.

My neighbors son has a habit of putting two fingers in the mouth. He is 12 years now and the thumb sucking is intense when he watches TV or when he is in bed. The skin above the nails have become thick and hard too.

The main reason babies put their finger into the mouth is because it is very soothing. When the babies get bored, they are hungry , lonely they tend to put their fingers in the mouth. Thumb sucking in children are also due to factors such as anxiety and receding from the general environment and letting himself off to another world. Babies protect their fingers by covering their face with a bed sheet.

Most of the children stop thumb sucking between 2 to 4 years. Few children continue thumb sucking beyond 5 years also. The Doctors claim that the reason is insecure feeling. The child is having an emotional problem and is finding comfort in thumb sucking.

Prolonged thumb sucking will lead to major dental problems when the permanent teeth surfaces. The teeth line up and the pressure impacted on the roof of the mouth indicates the type of teeth that develops.

If the thumb sucking is aggressive the front tooth will be raised , improperly aligned with orthodontic problems and treatment . Thumb sucking will make the child to be aggressive and stubborn.  Speech problems are generally associated with thumb sucking. The child will have difficulty in spelling words with T’s, D’s , lisping and thrusting out the tongue while talking.

If you are anxious about your child’s habit consult your pediatrician for further guidance. Positive reinforcement is generally more effective than negative reinforcement. Do not constantly remind the child of the habit. Pay no attention for a few days after you see a change in your child’s behavior and routine.

how can you help your child stop this habit.Few homemade remedies are to cover the thumb sucking finger with tape, place a ball of cotton dipped in vinegar for wiping his finger . The smell will not allow him to place his finger into mouth, place gloves on the hand after baby sleeps to avoid sucking finger. ensure he does not take the finger to his eyes. Rubbing freshly cut ginger, garlic are also good way to make them stop thumb sucking.

There are over the counter sale products to deter the child from sucking fingers.

Keep in mind that positive reinforcement is generally more effective than negative reinforcement. The child will further be intolerant to your advices. Don’t shame or punish your child for thumb-sucking. This will only lower your child’s self-esteem.

You need to spend time in observing your child’s patterns for the day or two. Then you will understand what is causing the baby to suck the finger. Relieve baby of the stress factors.  Do not scold or shout in public, the child becomes more withdrawn and tensed. In fact gently remind the child of the issues he will face in the long run. Maybe your Doctor will be able to explain better.

After the talk if you see the baby has gradually decreased his thumb sucking habit then you can praise child for not sucking. Gift him small things as a reminder of the change.

Look out for toys that could keep his hands engaged and his focus is shifted. To spare embarrassment in front of others, you might alert your child to the thumb sucking with a special hand signal. Make your child comfortable.

Studies have indicated that babies whose mothers are away to work, etc are more prone to this habit than the ones whose mothers are available with them.

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