How to Get Your Child to Stop Sucking their Thumb

The habit of thumb sucking may seem innocuous, but it isn’t. After a few years, thumb sucking goes from natural coping mechanism to something that obstructs their ability to develop more effective ways to deal with their emotions. Not only are there emotional consequences of thumb sucking, it can cause physical and social problems as well. While it can be difficult for you, as a parent, to get your child to stop sucking their thumbs, it is absolutely necessary. Here’s how to get your child to stop thumb sucking and why you should.

Why they Should Stop

Thumb sucking is a bad habit that causes a variety of consequences. There are physical results like malocclusion, which is either an open or overbite. This is when either both or the top row of the teeth are misaligned when the child’s mouth is closed. If continued, it may require orthodontic treatment.

It can also cause irritation of the skin and ingrown nails. Moisture from the mouth may crack the skin, cause peeling, warped nails, and bleeding. Thumb sucking can even cause infection. Speech impediments will also be the result of thumb sucking. Since the habit impacts the teeth, jaw, and mouth, your child sucking their thumbs may result in a lisp and the inability to pronounce certain sounds. This can also cause emotional issues.

The habit can cause emotional and social issues. Your child’s peers might ridicule them. In addition to teasing, they can be slow to develop emotional coping mechanisms that they use in their adult life. Thumb sucking begins as a way to comfort themselves, decrease stress, and placate boredom, but it must be stopped to form new ways to deal with emotions and create coping skills. If they suck their thumbs longer than they should, it can make it difficult for them to cope.

How to Get them to Stop

When your child is sucking their thumbs and won’t stop, there are a variety of methods to get them to. Perhaps the most effective way to prohibit your child from sucking their thumbs is to use a thumb guard. A plastic product that wraps around the wrist and covers the thumb so that the child can’t suck on the thumb. Even if they try to suck it, the thumb guard won’t give them the comfort and satisfaction they are looking for and will stop because of that.

Other options include mavala nail polish and thumbsies. Mavala is a nail polish that is bitter, discouraging the child from sucking on their thumbs. Children typically hate bitterness because their palate hasn’t developed enough yet, which makes the nail polish a great way to get your child to stop. Finally, thumbsies are a lot like a thumb guard except they’re a cloth. Wrapping around the wrist and covering the thumb, the child will try to suck the cloth. They won’t enjoy it as much as sucking on their thumb and will gradually stop the habit.

If All Else Fails

If you’ve tried these methods and have talked to your child about stopping the habit to no success, you might want to take the child to a professional. A doctor or child psychologist will be able to determine if your kid is developing slowly or if the thumb sucking is causing them to lag behind children at their age. Thumb sucking can lead to all kinds of development issues and may get in the way of their future happiness. It is imperative to help your child stop thumb sucking to avoid further complications.

However you look at it, thumb sucking is a habit that has to be stopped. While it is completely harmless during the early months and years of life, if thumb sucking persists it needs to be mitigated and stopped completely. There are real physical, emotional, and social consequences to thumb sucking. To avoid unnecessary damage to your child’s psyche and well-being, you should do whatever is necessary to end the habit. With a variety of methods to get your child to stop sucking their thumbs, there is no excuse. It might not be easy, but you shouldn’t give up. Your child will thank you in the end.