3 Tips to Help Your Child Quit Sucking Their Thumb


Understanding Your Child’s Unique Personality

For some children, sucking their thumb is second nature. This is a habit that can start really early on in life, and some children continue this into their toddler years. Often times a child will suck their thumb for comfort’s sake. However, there are ways of curbing that dependence. The first thing a parent must do is not to panic. While there is some risk that the structure of the mouth may be compromised, there is no need for concern until a child begins to acquire adult teeth. Until then, there is plenty of time to break the habit, though preventative measures are always more beneficial when practiced early.

Find the trigger:

It’s important to remember to be patient. It may take some time to coax a child into relying on alternative ways to soothe themselves. Since a child may feel the need to calm themselves for any number of reasons, finding the trigger will help a parent eliminate the causal stress for the habit. By removing the trigger, or being able to recognize it in order to quickly intervene, preventing the habit will become a much easier task.


Hands-on activities or things that will keep little fingers busy will detract a child away from the act of sucking their thumb. Keeping a child distracted with calming activities like coloring and puzzles keeps hands busy and providing them with other comforts such as a stuffed animal or blanket for bedtime may hinder nighttime sucking. Communicating with the child and making them aware of their habit, while offering a substitution like squeezing their thumb, gives them some control and confidence over what they’re doing.


In some cases, children who persist in thumb sucking leave few options for parents to dissuade them. A professional orthodontist may consult with parents on remedies that will correct any damage done to the mouth as a result of thumb sucking. Treatments are offered as early as seven years old once the child has acquired permanent front teeth and consultations may be provided as soon as a parent notices disagreeable behavior. You may consider speaking with professionals, like those at Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics.

Every child is different and the methods by which this habit is broken will vary. One thing to remember is not to get discouraged. Children develop at their own pace and some need more encouragement than others. There are many methods you could try to get your child to quit sucking their thumb, you might just have to try a few before you find the right fit. With the right attitude and plenty of persistence, any habit can be turned around.

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