Methods to Help Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking

While it starts as a harmless way for a baby to cope with their first emotions and calm themselves when they’re anxious, thumb sucking can quickly turn into a damaging habit. If continued into toddlerhood, thumb sucking may prohibit your kid from developing new and healthy coping mechanisms. There are a slew of emotional, physical, and social consequences should your child continue this bad habit. Below are the reasons why you should help your child and figure out how to stop thumb sucking.

Why You Should Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumbs

There are so many reasons why you should do your best to help your child stop the habit of thumb sucking. Not only will the habit lead to physical damages, it may get in the way of emotional and social development. First, prolonged thumb sucking may cause malocclusion of the teeth

Malocclusion is when either one row or both rows of the teeth are misaligned with when another. While it can be the result of the thumb pushing the teeth outward, an overbite or open bite may require professional orthodontic work. Your child’s mouth may even become infected. All of this may lead to a speech impediment and affect their communication skills.

Since thumb sucking is an early emotional coping mechanism, if continued the child can have a hard time communicating their feelings. Between a speech impediment and communication problems, thumb sucking leads to social issues. The child will have difficulty relating to their peers and may be made fun of because they still suck their thumbs. Developing proper coping and communication skills is imperative to their growth.

Some psychologists believe that thumb sucking even reinforces future addictive behaviors. When your child develops their emotional coping systems late, this can lead to all kinds of problems. While nothing can result, you don’t want to take the risk. That’s why you should utilize the following methods to help them stop this destructive habit.

Thumb Guards

When your child doesn’t stop sucking their thumbs by the age of three, you might want to intervene. One of the most common and effective ways to do this is to use a product that covers the thumb. A thumb guard is a plastic product that wraps around the child’s wrist and covers the thumb so that they can’t physically suck it.

A thumbsie is the cloth equivalent. While the cloth cover can help, they can still get their mouth around the thumb even if the skin is covered. Thumb sucking can cause a lot of skin irritation like rashes, ingrown nails, callusing, peeling, and cracking so it will still be helpful. The plastic thumb guard is a total obstruction that won’t satisfy the child’s desire to suck their thumbs.

Bitter Nail Polish

Another product designed to help stop thumb sucking is a bitter nail polish. Children hate the taste of bitterness more than adults because their palate isn’t fully developed. When you purchase a specialized nail polish for thumb sucking and paint the child’s nails with it, the child will hate the taste when they go to suck their thumbs. This will naturally encourage them to stop doing it because they’ll dislike how the polish tastes. It is a great alternative to thumb guards.

Elbow Stoppers

If the above products don’t work, you can look into elbow stoppers. This product wraps around the elbow and completely prohibits the child from bringing their hand up to their mouth. It will be impossible to suck their thumbs with that arm. While elbow stoppers may anger your child, it is an effective method to ensure they don’t suck their thumbs anymore.

Ask a Doctor

When the thumb sucking persists despite these efforts, it may be advisable to go see a doctor. A medical professional will be able to determine why the child is still sucking their thumbs and provide answers to help them stop. Since thumb sucking greatly impacts the development of the child, you should do everything within your power to help them. Your kid might get mad at you during this process, but you will be doing what’s best for them. Don’t give up until you have broken this bad habit.

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