Posted . by bpadmin

Thumb-sucking is a habit most young children have because it soothes them, helps them fall asleep, or makes them feel happy and secure. However, vigorous thumb-sucking or thumb-sucking seen in older children can create problems with the growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth. If your child sucks their thumb hard or is over four years of age and still hasn’t stopped, then here are some ways to help them break this habit.

See Your Dentist

Bring your child to the dentist for an explanation about why thumb-sucking is so bad for their teeth and mouth. Hearing this from a source outside of the family may help encourage them to stop the habit.

Positive Encouragement

Praising your child when they don’t suck they thumb goes much further than scolding your child when they do. Reminding them gently when they start to suck their thumb and giving small awards for when they don’t can also do a lot of good.

Pacifier Use

Pacifiers cause the same damage to teeth that sucking thumbs and fingers do. However, breaking the habit of using a pacifier is easier than breaking the habit of sucking thumbs. If you are having trouble stopping your child’s thumb-sucking, you can try weaning them from thumbs to pacifiers, and then to nothing at all.

Don’t Say Anything

Some children continue sucking their thumb because they are trying to get attention. If you think this is the case with your child, avoid mentioning the thumb-sucking and see if doing so has any affect.

Sleep Methods

Children often suck their thumb to help them sleep. If this is the case, try covering their hand with a sock. Your dentist may also recommend a bitter medicine to put on your child’s thumb.

Anxiety Triggers

Children suck their thumb to feel secure. So what is making them feel insecure? Find out what triggers their anxiety and try to put a stop to it. Also, giving your child extra love or something to hold onto—like a blanket or stuffed animal—can help.