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Parenting

Thumb Sucking And Why Children Do It

Have you ever looked at your toddler and wondered: “What exactly is so tasty about that thumb that you have to keep sticking it in your mouth?” Apart from the desperate urge to constantly do so, your little thumb sucker may not be able to explain the temptation behind it. This is because thumb sucking is usually a natural reflex that occurs until the age of two to four, and may have even started before your little one was born!

Sucking one’s thumb helps young children feel comforted and secure, even acting as a soothing repetitive action to lull them to sleep at night. It’s simple – some people have their calming music, toddlers have their thumbs. Unfortunately, some kids fail to grow out of this habit naturally, which could lead to bite misalignment, or harmful behavioural issues.

Image Credit: Hogan Family Dental

Image Credit: Hogan Family Dental

Hence, should your little one’s thumb sucking get out of hand, you’ll need to know how to wean them off as soon as possible.

1. Provide Alternatives

Image Credit: VideoBlocks

Image Credit: VideoBlocks

Occupy their itchy hands with other objects like soft plushies or fidget toys. This is a simple way to keep their hands anywhere else but their face. Even at night, just hugging a teddy bear close might stop them from unconsciously sneaking their thumb into their mouth.

2. Give Positive Reinforcement

What does your little one like more than thumb sucking? Be it sweets, stickers, games or cartoons, these act as powerful incentives to encourage your kid to kick that nasty habit. Remember to shower them with praises and be consistent in your reward system, making it very clear that no thumb sucking = better treats.

3. Identify Triggers

Knowing what could set your child off on their thumb sucking frenzy will help you tackle the root of the issue. By looking out for triggers like boredom or hunger, you can quickly divert your child’s attention and prevent the sucking before it even begins .

4. Educate

In the end, the most effective way to curb this habit is to get your child over on your side. Sit them down and educate them on the consequences, such as what will happen to the aesthetic of their smile and the skin of their thumb, should they refuse to stop sucking it. Hopefully, this will make them more wary and give them the motivation to stop themselves. 

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