False Teeth - Making the Right Choices

Do You Have A Thumb Sucker? 4 Ways To Discourage Thumb Sucking In Your Child

It is not at all uncommon to see babies and small children sucking their thumbs. In fact, it is very normal. However, as children begin getting teeth, thumb-sucking can become a problem. Over time, the jaw and the teeth can become misaligned and will need intervention to fix. Here are some ways to help your child stop sucking their thumb:

Don't Give it A Lot of Attention

As a parent who is concerned about a child sucking their thumb, your first instinct may be to react quickly and harshly when you see them in the act. The thing parents need to remember is that the child sucks their thumb primarily as a comforting mechanism. If your child becomes upset because of being harshly disciplined, they will actually suck their thumb even more. The better thing to do is to be very subtle and calm when talking to your child about thumb sucking.

Distract the Child

While you don't want to overly discipline the child, you do want them to stop what they are doing. So when you notice your child with a thumb in their mouth, provide some kind of distraction that will cause them to stop. Give them a toy, offer to read them a story, or offer to do a fun craft activity. Do something that you know your child enjoys that will keep their mind off of their mouth.

Implement Physical Reminders

If your child is having a really hard time kicking the thumb-sucking habit, you may want to consider implanting some physical reminders. Put something on their hand or thumbs that will deter them from putting it in their mouth. Things like placing gloves on their hands or placing a bandage on the primary thumb will help the child remember to keep their thumbs out of their mouth.

Give Praise When the Child Isn't Sucking a Thumb

Instead of focusing on when they are sucking their thumb, pay attention to when they are not doing it. There may be times when your child would normally have their thumb in their mouth, like when watching television or riding in the car. Keep an eye out for times when you don't see them in the act and praise them for keeping their thumb out of their mouth. A good idea is to keep a chart on the refrigerator that you can place a sticker on each time your child keeps the thumb out of their mouth. After so many stickers, reward the child with a special prize, such as a small toy or a fun outing.

Thumb-sucking is a completely normal function for very small children, but it can be damaging to the teeth as they get older. If you are still having problems getting your child to stop sucking their thumb, make an appointment with their dentist or pediatrician such as Southridge Pediatric Dentistry to see what other advice they may have.