11 Effective Ways To Help Your Child Stop Sucking Thumb

Here are 11 ways to permanently stop finger and thumb sucking without breaking your budget. Most people need to combine several methods to find success:

  • Talk: Always start by talking to your child about why thumb sucking is a bad habit. Talking alone doesn’t usually break the habit, but it can help your child decide that he or she wants to quit. Positive motivation to quit is half the battle.                                                                    Some things to talk about with your child include:
  • Germs: thumb and finger sucking spreads germs and makes people sick.
  • Teeth: sucking pushes teeth forward and can make you look funny, and you might need braces.
  • Teasing: Other kids will think you are still a baby or might tease.
  • Speech: As long as you suck your thumb it is hard to learn how to speak the right way. You might sound funny.
  • YouTube: It worked for us– one night we showed our daughter about six short YouTube videos about thumb sucking. In the middle of one video she announced she was all done sucking her thumb. That was really the turning point, the moment at which she decided for herself that she wanted us to help her stop. Sometimes kids just really need to hear about bad habits from someone other than mom or dad. YouTube is a cheap and easy way to accomplish this.
  • Chewelry: Jewelry you can chew, or chewlry, is a good substitute to help a toddler stop the sucking without losing the true pleasure they get from oral stimulation. There are many options in many colors on Amazon.com and other sites, most about $10.
  • Find your child’s favorite thumb-sucking times: Watching TV and sleeping are two common times when kids fall back into their sucking habits. Identify your child’s problem times and then have your child help you devise a quitting plan that focuses on these times. If nighttime is a problem, try putting socks on hands before bed and attaching the socks to pajama sleeves with safety pins. If watching TV is a problem, try turning off the TV for 5 or 10 minutes every time a child is caught sucking.
  • Sticker chart or positive reward system: Make a sticker chart and provide lots of praise and positive rewards for success. At first, your child might need a sticker for every hour he or she goes without sucking. If she goes a whole day, she might need a special reward such as extra books at bedtime. Eventually you should be able to get to a daily sticker chart. Once your child makes it to about two weeks without sucking, you are probably home-free.
  • Praise, all day: Find a way to remind yourself or your child’s caregiver to praise your child for not sucking at least once an hour. Consider setting an alarm or reminder on your phone.
  • Bad-tasting nail polish: Before you crucify me in the comments and accuse me of child abuse, I want you to know that “yucky nail polish” really worked for my daughter. Even as a 4-year-old, she asked to have her nails painted nightly. These products are primarily intended to stop nail biting, but many people find they help with thumb and finger sucking, too. We had to alternate brands, though, because our daughter just became accustomed to the taste after a few days. There are many brands and you may have to find the right one that works for your child or alternate products.

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