Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thumb Sucking - How to Overcome This Behavior

Thumb sucking is a behavior found in many children from a very tender age. Reasons may vary from hunger, comfort, pleasure and safety. Many outgrow this habit in a short time, while for the others parents need to give a helping hand to quit this habit. Letting the child continue thumb sucking gives rise to dental problems, which is why it needs to be stopped.

Here are some ways parents can help children overcome thumb sucking:
1. Awareness - let him/her know impacts on their teeth and that it is also not a good social behavior. This will make them realize that he/she has been indulging in something which is not right.
2. Get a thumb guard - thumb guards are simple gloves which protect only the thumb and prevent the child from sucking on it. Encourage the child to wear the thumb guard till the time the habit is quit.
3. Attention - many times it is seen that the child craves for attention and thumb sucking becomes a habit. Give the child more attention and eventually the child will get rid of the habit.
4. Reward the child - appreciating and rewarding the child when he/she does not suck the thumb can be a motivating factor for the child to quit thumb sucking.
5. Distraction - thumb sucking is an unconscious behavior and as such the child does not realize that he/she is sucking the thumb. Distract the child when you notice thumb sucking by giving them activities which makes use of both hands.
6. Apply bitter/sour tasting liquid - applying the child's finger with vinegar/neem oil will help the child get rid of the habit of thumb sucking. Since the child sucks the thumb unconsciously, it will help the child realize that it is not to be done. However, do not forcefully apply the liquid on your child's thumb and tell them that it is to help him/her to get rid of the habit.
7. Peer pressure - getting your child to play with other children who do not suck their finger will help the child quit this habit. Peer pressure is a powerful motivating factor, which can help you help the child.

Punishing or embarrassing the child in front of others is not going to help the child quit the habit of thumb sucking. It is only going to hurt the child's self-esteem and not encourage quitting the habit.

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