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What age would you try to break a child's thumb sucking?


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Since thumb (finger) sucking sort of becomes a social taboo in public school, I know many kids (myself included) either express a desire to quit or quit on their own, to keep from being labeled as a "baby" by peers.

 

However, being homeschooled, my dc won't really have that social issue, so I'm wondering what age you broke a child from thumb sucking and how you did it? I have three thumb suckers, ages one, four, and five. The one and four year old I'm not worried about, but is five too old to be still sucking his thumb? This is a Linus child, who will probably suck his thumb and carry his blanket and tiger cat down the aisle if I don't intervene. :D

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Hmm, I wonder what the correlation is between losing one's first tooth and stopping thumb sucking? Anyway, that one wouldn't work because ds lost his first tooth in an accident when he was three.

 

Good advice about making him aware of his habit. When I was telling my younger son (4) the other night that Daddy doesn't suck his thumb because he's big, he just looked at me and calmly said, "No, it's because his thumb is yucky, and mine is good." :lol: I don't think he's ready yet.

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He was going to Montessori school at the time of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong and the school was very concerned about transmission of bodily fluids between children using the equipment. He was about six at the time. Every time the teachers saw him suck his thumb, they gently reminded him that he needed to go and wash his hands. This increased his awareness and made his life so inconvenient, that he stopped very fast.

 

Best wishes

 

Laura

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I had one dedicated thumb sucker. We tried to gently wean him for about two years before finally buy the Thumbguard to prevent sucking. He stopped at around 6. He did damage to his palette and developed a tongue thrust that causes him to lisp. Thumb sucking can do damage, so I would encourage you to begin now to help him break the habit. Not all children are capable or willing to do this on their own.

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The dentist has told me all along to not worry until 4/5yrs old. Which is where we are now. He has said to try not to make a big deal about it and go about it slow. Like make a no thumbsucking in XYZ place until that is good. Then add another place. We started with at the table, then at story time. If watching TV we encourage her to hold a toy instead of sucking. She has said on her own a few times she wants to stop so many times if we see her thumb in her mouth we only have to give a look or say her name and out it comes. The amount she does it now really depends on how she feels. It's gotten to the point where she isn't avidly sucking anymore, it just habitually goes in her mouth especially when she is tired. So I'm not terribly worried - just keep on plugging on. We've told her before she can only suck her thumb in bed. We've talked about how now that she is older she will hurt her teeth. She has an overbite, but that comes from her genes too.

 

Another thing we've tried is putting rings on her thumbs. Nice thick banded ones. It took work to find some small enough lol. But that has limited success because she looses the rings all the time.

 

I would say five is getting on the old side. But I know my dd will still be sucking at five. I'd work to get him to on only sucking thumb in bed.

 

Good Luck

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Well, I'm just going to come out and say it. I'm completely vulnerable here and I fully expect to be made fun of for this. :)

 

I sucked my thumb until I was 11.:blush:

 

My parents tried everything with me - from promises to go to Disney World, to putting hot pepper on my thumb. Nothing worked. Honestly, I don't know what made me stop.

 

I haven't had any thumb suckers yet myself, though I have high suspicions that the one I'm currently carrying in utero, will be. I do believe the other night dh and I both felt him sucking his thumb.

 

My dd used a pacifier and we had her throw them all away when she turned 2 and got her "big girl" bed. When she saw she was the one who threw them away, she understood and never asked for it again.

 

My ds sucked his 2 middle fingers. He didn't stop until the dentist told him too, which was when he was almost 4. Having someone else tell him he needed to stop other than mom and dad worked for him. However, he's 6yo now and still carries his favorite blanket around - shreds that it now is.

 

I don't know what's going to happen with this little guy. I'd like to say that he'll be done with whatever he has (pacifier, fingers, thumb) before he's 4yo too. But I don't know.

 

Does your child suck his thumb all the time, or only when he's sleepy, or what are the patterns? That's what I would be looking into - the patterns - and then trying to replace the thumb with something else, depending on the trigger. If it's only at bedtime though, I wouldn't worry about it. Just go in and gently take his thumb out after he's fallen asleep.

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all.the.time. He is also a Linus child as is ds5 who only sucks his thumb when he has his blanket, at nap time and bedtime. Ds6 (almost 7) sucks his thumb for different reasons. Some is habit, some is to satisfy that "oral" need (he has Aspergers and many have told me that is one of the things Aspie's sometimes do). Anyway, I always remind ds6 to stop. When I see him, I simply say, "THUMB!" and he usually stops. With ds5, I'm not AS worried b/c it's only at nap and bedtime. I've been warned NOT to be punitive or pressure them. I just hope they stop on their own at some point soon b/c it is driving me crazy w/ worry about their teeth.

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None of mine ever sucked their thumbs, although I sucked mine right up to first grade.

 

I did get my neighbor's son to stop when he was 5, and I was keeping him. Every time I saw him stick his thumb in his mouth, I'd say, "oohh. That's germy, You need to go wash your hands."

 

It only took him about 2 weeks to get so tired of washing his hands that he gave up thumb sucking.

 

At the same time, his mom "lost" his blankie. That really helped him break the cycle.

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No, he doesn't suck his thumb all the time, just when he's sleepy or upset. It is definitely his comfort item, but he has many: his thumb, blanket, tiger-cat, and he likes to sleep with a dozen or more stuffed animals. He also loves anything tactile, and often sneaks off with the other kids soft animals or blankets so he can rub them. Maybe teaching him to pet something soft can help him stop the thumb habit.

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I just thought of something else. A different friend was visiting me, and she was trying to help her daughter quit sucking her thumb.

 

The mom lay down with her, and held her hand while she was falling asleep. I think she did that for a week, and it worked.

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I would say 5 is about right. I had two thumb suckers. People often asks us how we were able to get them to stop. One did it the easy way...the other did it the quick, but not so easy way. When our oldest was getting ready to go into pre-school we sat her down and told her that it was time for her stop sucking her thumb in public. We told her that she could suck her thumb all she wanted *in her room. When we would notice her sucking her thumb around the house we would gently remind her that if she wanted to do that, she could go play in her room. Of course she did not want to go to her room and miss out on what was going on with the rest of us, so she would just take her thumb out. This process took maybe a couple of months total. Now our middle DD...she jumped off the couch and broke her arm (the one with her sucking thumb) when she was two. They put a cast on past her elbow, so she could not get her thumb to her mouth...that was the end of that. It made me so sad, I actually tried to get her to suck the other thumb, but it just was not the same.

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This is a Linus child, who will probably suck his thumb and carry his blanket and tiger cat down the aisle if I don't intervene. :D

 

I had 3 Linus type children last month. :001_smile: My guideline for quitting thumb sucking is the child must be willing to make the effort to quit. My middle 2 were unwilling to consider it until last month when both willingly quit at ages 8 and 10. They've both informed me they also had to give up their beloved blanket or they will suck their thumb. My 5 yo is unwilling to consider quitting and considers his blankey one of the necessities of life. I'm not pushing him to quit at this time. Around age 9, it became embarrasing to ds#2 to be caught sucking his thumb in public. A few episodes (and comments) and he was more than happy to wear a bandaid on his thumb for a week. ;)

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was when we worked on our ds, who just loved his thumb and blankie. Around 4, we just cajoled a little bit. By 5, we started strongly encouraging him to limit his thumb time to bed. He could go in there and lay down whenever he wanted to . . . Worked pretty well. We were always gentle and encouraging, never punishing. We got our third child off her pacifier pretty much the same way, by her 4th birthday. . . Just a gradual restriction on when/wheres of the sucking helps them break the habit. I worry about their teeth if they keep sucking on towards 6 when they'll be starting to develop permanent teeth. . .

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My older dd was just-turned-8 and still sucking her thumb at bedtime, when she broke her wrist falling off a neighbor's swing. Because of the cast, she couldn't suck her thumb for 8 weeks. When she got the cast off, she had a splint, and she determined to wear the splint even longer than she needed to so she could break her thumb habit. If that hadn't happened, I'm not sure what we would have done. She is almost 14 now and says she still notices a difference in the shape and thumbnail on her left thumb. :)

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Telling him that he could only have his thumb in his bed wouldn't faze him, because he will gladly loll around in his bad all day if I would let him. He has a different personality from any of our other children, and some days you have to make him have fun, lol.

 

Anyway, he gave me my out this afternoon. He wears regular little boy underwear with transformers and tractors on them, like most kids do. Well, he asked me today if I would buy him some underwear like Dad's (boxer briefs). That might seem like a strange request from a five year old, but I pounced on it. I told him if he would quit sucking his thumb, I would get them for him, and he said 'ok', and went and laid down for rest time. I checked on him a few times, but he was never sucking his thumb. He told me after about 15 min. that he couldn't get to sleep (he always naps), so I told him to pet his tiger-cat with the thumb he usually sucks. That worked, and he napped for over an hour without sucking his thumb once.

 

I know one day is not success, but it was a day of success, so maybe he'll be easier than I thought.

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I sucked my thumb until I was 11.:blush:

 

Same here. My mother finally foot the bill for this awful retainer with prongs on it so I couldn't get my thumb in my mouth at night.

 

 

Anyway, he gave me my out this afternoon. He wears regular little boy underwear with transformers and tractors on them, like most kids do. Well, he asked me today if I would buy him some underwear like Dad's (boxer briefs). That might seem like a strange request from a five year old, but I pounced on it. I told him if he would quit sucking his thumb, I would get them for him, and he said 'ok', and went and laid down for rest time.

 

 

I wouldn't be surprised if it is that easy and I hope it is.

 

I had a talk with my ds when he was around 5. He really wanted to stop so it was a team effort and not me having to force him. We ended up using that stuff you paint on your thumb nail that tastes awful. I don't remember it being a very big deal for him.(He is very unlike me. ;))

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Telling him that he could only have his thumb in his bed wouldn't faze him, because he will gladly loll around in his bad all day if I would let him. He has a different personality from any of our other children, and some days you have to make him have fun, lol.

 

Anyway, he gave me my out this afternoon. He wears regular little boy underwear with transformers and tractors on them, like most kids do. Well, he asked me today if I would buy him some underwear like Dad's (boxer briefs). That might seem like a strange request from a five year old, but I pounced on it. I told him if he would quit sucking his thumb, I would get them for him, and he said 'ok', and went and laid down for rest time. I checked on him a few times, but he was never sucking his thumb. He told me after about 15 min. that he couldn't get to sleep (he always naps), so I told him to pet his tiger-cat with the thumb he usually sucks. That worked, and he napped for over an hour without sucking his thumb once.

 

I know one day is not success, but it was a day of success, so maybe he'll be easier than I thought.

 

I am so glad! I was so afraid that I'd have a thumbsucker... I gave them all pacifiers with the knowledge that I could *take away* a pacifier, but a thumb was a lot harder to deal with.

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We put an end to it early. 10 months for one ds, 18 months for the other. The longer you leave it the harder it is to stop the habit. Our very close friends have a daughter who is 9 and still sucks her thumb. She has sucked off her thumb nail three times so far. No one needs that.

 

I decided we'd lose the thumb/fingers before the kids would remember it and at a time when it would cause the lease amount of stress and trauma. I also wanted to stop it before they had an awareness of it being something they shouldn't do.

 

That being said, my nearly 8 year old is going through some anxiety issues and part of that is manifesting itself in constant finger chewing/sucking. He ended up with one of his fingers getting infected and turning black - then we picked up some antibiotics. He is not enjoying the fact that he feels he has to suck his fingers nor is he enjoying the negative attention it is bringing him from friends and strangers.

 

Back to ages - I've watched lots of friends struggle with taking a thumb away from 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Stopping that habit at 10 months was a piece of cake. Stopping it at 18 months took a little longer but it was still completely over within a week. Why make it harder than it has to be?

 

Sarah

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