Tips for Breaking the Thumb Sucking Habit

Thumb sucking is one of the most common habits in kids. It is necessary to break the thumb-sucking habit before the permanent teeth start forming. Thumb sucking can cause various problems such as damage to the permanent teeth. It can affect the roof of the mouth or the lining up of the teeth. Before knowing that how you can help your kids get rid of thumb sucking habit, let us first understand why it occurs.

Children have natural sucking reflexes that cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths. In fact, experts say that thumb sucking makes them feel secure and soothing or even helps them going to bed.

Many kids stop sucking their thumbs during the toddlers’ years i.e., between 2 and 4 years. For some kids, school helps end the habit.

If your kid is finding difficulty in getting rid of thumb sucking habit, try these techniques:

  1. One of the best things you can do to help your kid get rid of thumb sucking habit is to identify the trigger. Some kids suck their thumbs in response to stress. Some kids suck their thumbs in response to hunger. Identify the issues behind the habit.

  2. Praise your kid or give a reward when he/she is not thumb-sucking such as a trip to the park and extra bedtime stories. Try to praise him/her instead of criticizing him/her when he/she does.
  3. Get your kids to the dentist on a regular basis. The dentists can help encourage your kids and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not break this habit.
  4. Help your kids find an alternative way of coping with the issues due to which they are sucking their thumb.
  5. Most kids suck their thumbs when they are bored or tired. Sometimes, they don’t even realize that they are thumb-sucking. Help your kids recognize the habit by pointing it out every time.
  6. Experts suggest that giving up the thumb-sucking habit all at once is not easy for a child. Hence, try setting limits.
  7. Some kids can control their thumb-sucking habits during waking hours. However, they can suck their thumb while they are asleep. After all it is a habit! You can loosely tie a sock around the hand that your kid used for thumb sucking. This kind of technique can prevent it and the habit will eventually be broken.
  8. Distract your kids with activities that require two hands such as a zig-saw puzzle.
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