How Can I Help My Child Quit Thumb-Sucking? Dr. Greenberg Explains

Last week we talked about thumb-sucking, understanding why it is comforting to your child and when you should be concerned about it. Should you need to help your child end his habit, follow these guidelines from Dr. Greenberg:

1. Always be supportive and positive. Instead of punishing your child for thumb-sucking, give praise when he doesn’t suck.

2. Put a band-aid on his thumb or a sock over his hand at night. Let him know that this is not a punishment, just a way to help him remember to avoid sucking.

3. Start a progress chart and let him put a sticker up every day that he doesn’t suck his thumb. If he makes it through a week without sucking, he gets to choose a prize (trip to the zoo, new set of blocks, etc.) Making your child an active participant in his treatment will increase his willingness to break the habit.

4.
If you notice your child sucking when he’s anxious, work on alleviating his anxiety rather than focusing on the thumb-sucking.

5. Take note of the times your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies) and create diversions during these occasions.

6.
Explain clearly what might happen to his teeth if he keeps sucking his thumb.

Whatever your method, always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the thumb-sucking habit. In case you’re a parent who wasn’t a thumb-sucker and you have a child who is, Shel Silverstein provides a bit of insight in a classic poem from his book Where the Sidewalk Ends:

Thumbs

Oh, the thumb-sucker’s thumb
May look wrinkled and wet
And withered, and white as the snow,
But the taste of a thumb
Is the sweetest taste yet
(As only we thumb-suckers know).

Have any more questions? Contact us at Greenberg Orthodontics, we’d love to chat with you.

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