Thumb Sucking in Kids: 5 Practical Ways to Break the Habit

Young girl thumb sucking while readingThumb sucking is a common habit in children. They find it soothing, which is normal. In most cases, they will outgrow it. However, thumb sucking becomes a concern when kids get older and permanent teeth start to grow. Some of the consequences of constant thumb sucking are speech problems and misalignment of teeth.

If your children don’t stop thumb sucking, follow these steps to stop the habit:

1. Teach New Ways to Cope

Children suck on their thumbs as a way of relaxing and soothing themselves. Try identifying triggers that make them thumb suck. These may include anxiety, fear or boredom. Seeking the services of a pediatric dentist in Saratoga Springs will help pin down the specific cause. Once you know what leads to the habit, engage your little ones in activities that will distract them.

2. Use Positive Reinforcement

Instead of scolding your children every time you notice thumb sucking, try to praise them every time they don’t. You can also adopt a sticker reward system where they earn one each time they don’t suck their thumb. They can then redeem them for fun activities such as a visit to the park.

3. Stay Calm and Offer Gentle Reminders

When your kids thumb suck out of thought, don’t confront or scold them to stop but rather, gently remind them to stop.

4. Talk and Educate Them

Although it may not make sense to younger kids, it helps to let children who can comprehend simple matters know that thumb sucking has bad consequences. For example, tell them it introduces germs to the mouth, which could make them sick.

5. Consider a Talk with the Dentist

For children above the age of five, talking to the dentist might be more effective. They will recommend what’s appropriate for them depending on their sucking persistence.

Breaking the thumb sucking habit is a process that requires patience and consistency. Also, no one method fits all. Try the different remedies and see what works best for your children.