How to End Your Child’s Thumb Sucking Habit

Thumb sucking may seem harmless, but it is a bad habit if the child keeps it up. Not only does it delay the development of your child’s emotional coping abilities, thumb sucking has physical consequences that arise fairly quickly. In addition to emotional and physical results, this habit can lead to social ridicule and problems expressing themselves. To ensure that your child has the ability to cope emotionally and avoid unnecessary consequences, here’s how to stop thumb sucking.

Results of Thumb Sucking

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There are physical results from thumb sucking. These include malocclusion of the teeth, which is when the rows are directed outwards. When the child sucks their thumbs for too long, an overbite or an open bite may result. An overbite is a when the upper row is misaligned when the mouth is closed and an open bite is when both rows are misaligned. Malocclusion may require professional orthodontic treatment to fix it. A school friend of mine sucked her thumb for years and ended up with loads of dental work as a teenager as a result of this.

Beyond malocclusion, thumb sucking can cause skin irritation and speech issues. The moisture from the mouth can lead to cracking, bleeding, and peeling of the skin. It can also cause callusing as well as warping of the thumbnail and ingrowth. Not only can the skin crack, bleed, and peel, it can also make the thumb and fingers vulnerable to infections. The habit of thumb sucking can lead to a speech impediment such as a lisp. It can also result in the child having difficulty pronouncing specific consonant sounds.

There aren’t just physical consequences. There are also potential social problems caused by the habit. When the child has trouble with speaking, they may not have the ability to express themselves and communicate with others.

Finally, emotionally thumb sucking prevents children from developing the necessary coping mechanisms they’ll need in the future. When the child continues thumb sucking, they may not be able to cope in healthy ways. Psychologists also say that thumb sucking may lead to the development of other bad habits as they get older. Some even think it is a sign of future behaviors. There is no shortage of reasons to stop your child’s habit of thumb sucking.

Getting them to Stop

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Don’t worry, there are a wide variety of methods to get your child to stop sucking their thumb. Start with a thumb glove or a guard. Cloth gloves that wrap around the wrist and cover the thumb will make children less enticed to suck their thumbs. A thumb guard is a plastic version that is even more effective. These products provide a way to discourage your child from sucking their thumb because it is less satisfying and not as comforting.

There is also specifically-designed nail polish that will get your child to stop thumb sucking. It tastes bitter, which children hate. When the child goes to suck their thumb, it will taste bitterness and the child will be disgusted by it. It is a great way to get them to stop because they won’t be able to stand it. This can also help children who bite their nails.

1 comment

  1. Thumb sucking can be a symptom of a problem not just a problem in itself. There are several reasons a child may suck their thumb, and it is important to investigate those first. It can be a sign of sexual or physical abuse, especially in a child older than 5.

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