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Helping Your Child Break a Thumb Sucking Habit

If your child sucks their thumb, then you may be informed by their dentist that the habit should be stopped before the adult teeth start to come into the mouth. If the habit is not curbed, then your child may end up with a permanent overbite. This type of problem can cause some health issues that include a tight and sore jaw. If your child currently sucks their thumb and you want to try to break the habit, then try some of the tips below.

Wait It Out

Children suck their thumbs as a way of soothing themselves when they feel negative emotions or when they do not have an adult around to help them. Self soothing is a vital skill that helps your child navigate the world and its difficulties. Children will self soothe as toddlers and preschoolers because they do not have the ability to problem solve yet. Children learn necessary problem solving skills in preschool. They also learn how to communicate their emotions effectively around the same age. These things assist your child with dealing with strong emotions and self soothing techniques are not needed any longer. In other words, young children eventually learn the skills they need to feel secure. 

When children no longer need to feel secure, they will often give up thumb sucking on their own. This means that you may not need to directly address the problem. In fact, drawing attention to the habit may make your child feel insecure and this may cause them to continue thumb sucking. Wait for your child to start giving up the habit on their own. However, you should note whether or not the habit continues past the age of five. If it does, then your child’s permanent teeth will come in soon. It is best for the habit to stop before this happens.

Use a Special Nail Solution

If you do notice thumb sucking continuing past the age of five, then it is time to start taking measures to stop the habit. There are a variety of tactics you can use, and turning the self-soothing act of thumb sucking into an uncomfortable action is one thing you can do. You can do this by purchasing a nail polish or liquid solution to place on your child’s thumb that tastes bitter. This helps to make the habit unpleasant. It can also help to draw your child’s attention to the thumb sucking so they can actively work to stop the behavior. 

There are a variety of bitter tasting polishes you can buy. Some of them are marketed to stop thumb sucking while others are meant to stop children from biting their nails. Both kinds of products will work well and they are safe for use with children. Talk to a dentist like Kenneth Schweizer DDS PA about other ways to stop thumb sucking so your child’s teeth come in straight.