Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Here a Thumb, There a Thumb

Sprout was a colicky baby. COLICKY. About the only thing that would calm him was sucking his thumb. So, in order to MAKE THE CRYING STOP we let him. We may have even been guilty of guiding it into his mouth a time or twenty. (You may only judge us if you have had more than one colicky baby.)

Unfortunately while the colic is now long gone, the thumb-sucking continues.

Once again I seek the collective wisdom of the Internet. How does one teach a 2.5 year old to stop sucking their thumb?

We've tried gentle reminders, encouragement when he doesn't and the nailbiter stuff. Apparently the nailbiter stuff is like nectar to a preschooler and the reminders work for 3.7 seconds.

Any other ideas?

Please?

This has been part of Shannon's backwards Works for Me Wednesdays. If you have solutions, today she has questions. Head over there to help some sisters out!

25 comments:

Dawn and Dale said...

I have no ideas for you!! I've never had a thumb sucker till now! None of the boys ever used they thumb for soothing but Charla does!

She only sucks her thumb when she has her blankie though. We only let her have her blankie at nap and bedtimes. I've NEVER seen her thumb in her mouth when she doesn't have her blankie in her hands! I'm hoping that when we take the blankie away one day...the thumb sucking will stop along with it!! Here's hoping!!

I soooooo don't know when to do that though!! She's had a rough year this year already...I'd hate to do it too soon!

Jonathan said...

We had to stop our son's finger-sucking at age 2+ because he had fallen and chipped both front teeth...and they were sticking out from the sucking habit. Mavala Stop was the stuff that worked for us. I don't know if that's what you've tried, but it worked like a charm for us. (You can google it and buy it online.) We talked to him about why we were "painting his fingers" and he wanted all his fingers painted with the nasty stuff!

Good luck!

Jonathan's mom

Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead said...

I'm subscribing to your comments b/c I'm dying to hear people's advice. I tried it all...even putting bandaids on my sons thumbs. You know what he did? He sucked his toes. No joke.

My pediatric dentist told me not to worry about it (my son just turned 4 and he still sucks his thumb at bedtime). He said to try to stop the habit would be like shredding their security blanket. It will shame them into doing it secretly and make them feel bad for doing something very soothing and natural for them.

He also said that 85% of kids get braces, so suck it up and start saving. That advice was actually quite freeing. If it helps the poor kid sleep and self-sooth, I'm with the camp of: Let it go! :)

The good news is that our kids won't be sucking their thumbs in high school.

Hopefully...

kara said...

If you read the comments from this post: http://www.parenthacks.com/2008/07/peanut-butter-s.html a few different people offer up what worked for them.

Unfortunately it took an oridontal intervention for me in the 5th grade. Good luck!

Thehotrod5 said...

I have had 2 thumb suckers...my son (now 6) ended up with a nasy little fungal infection on the thumb he sucked so I went right out and bought "Thumb." It broke him one day, although I felt a bit shameful doing it that way. Now my daughter is 4 and still sucks her thumb. She is at an age where we can talk about it. And bribery. Bribery has worked well for her. She no longer sucks her thumb at the table, while watching tv or any other time except when she is tired and then I try to remind her that even though she is tired she can ONLY suck her thumb when she is in bed (a rule that she made up). I think we are slowly getting there...and yes our dentist has said something to us...but when I said she was only sucking at night now they seemed pleased :)

Angela

Jendeis said...

Wasn't able to stop until 7 years old (I only sucked my thumb at night) - my mom safety-pinned long wool socks to my pajama sleeves.

Awesome Mom said...

I haven't even tired. My son Harry is hardcore and it is just not worth it. When he gets older I will talk to him about it, but I don't plan on pushing the issue and turning it into a battle. The best time to break a thumb sucker is when they are a baby and the habit is not ingrained. I was just too happy to be able to put Harry down finally to really push the issue.

3XMom said...

my daughter did it cold turkey when she was 5. Basically, the dentist told her that now she had adult teeth (she had lost her first baby teeth), she needed to stop. She did - that day. It was weird. We got her special "princess" gloves to wear at night to remind her not to suck, and she was over it in a few days. Good luck - I have no idea how to do it with a 2 1/2 year old.

Kaye said...

I don't know, but I'm subscribing to the comments to get an answer. We are about to start trying and it seems different things work for different people, so I'd like to see all of the suggestions.

However, with my niece, it was a trip to the dentist and him telling her about braces. Of course...she wasn't 2-1/2.

Ours is three so I'm looking forward to the answers here!

steffj89 said...

i cant believe i am admitting this on a blog where anyone can read this but here goes....i sucked my thumb for YEARS...girls i mean like college...and it was totally a security thing...and let me be very clear...the more said to me about it the worse and harder it was to deal with it.
To be totally honest i finally stopped shortly after I got married. for the first time in my life i felt 100% secure and unconditionally loved...
my parents and i agreed on several rules when I was about 10
including it was not allowed outside of my bedroom and neither was my blankie...(i do still have this BTW though it looks more like a few yarn knots than the blanket it was originally).

we tried everything over the years my parents put jalapeno oil on my thumbs, lemon juice, band aids, funny mittens the dr recommended when i had the chicken pox...you name it and i am sure over the years it was recommended.
Steff

ET @ Titus2:3-5 said...

Our pediatric dentist says this - don't bother! Most things you try will cause the child stress, which will result in more frequent and more vigorous sucking. Most children will naturally stop sucking around age 5.

I have a 6-year-old daughter who still sucks her thumb, but never at school. So that's progress. And when she tells us she doesn't suck at school we sop on the praise! I've been noticing a decrease at home, as well...

Janet said...

Just cut the thumb off. We have found this works wonders.

Anita/TN said...

My son sucked his thumb until 1st grade with no interest in stopping UNTIL - At the beginning of every week we gave him a Mason jar with about $10 in quarters in it. Everytime he sucked his thumb he had to pay us a quarter. The first week he had no quarters left. The 2nd week he had about 1/2 his quarters. The third week he gave us 2 quarters and that was it. Greedy little sucker HATED having to pay us to suck his thumb!

FrazzMom said...

Ditto Katie's comment. Our pediatric dentist gave us the same advice. All my kids do have braces, but not all were thumb suckers (so I guess we can't blame it on that!).

And none of them suck their thumbs now...

Heather of the EO said...

another case by case thing then? I guess I'm overly laid back about these things. I often can be heard saying things like "he's not going to go to college with his pacifier..." But then there's that one comment...

I like the saying, "you get what you focus on." So I guess if you don't make it a big thing and kind of gently guide, a child had a tendency to grow out of things on their own.

But I'm no expert.

Char and Avery said...

I have nail biters, not thumb suckers, but it seems that paint on stuff indeed is NOT a deterrent.

Ryan's dad suggested scratching the fingernails into the soap bar. Might work??

Good luck!

JCK said...

I'm of the school that they will stop when they are ready. But...I didn't have a thumb sucker. It definitely is a soothing mechanism. The bribery seems the best bet to me as then they get to make the decision themselves.

Beth said...

My daughter broke her arm and had to have her arm, hand, and THUMB casted for 4 weeks. Lucky for us it broke the habit--wouldn't recommend it though :)

Nae and Clara said...

Had to leave a comment on this one...My middle child is almost three and is a thumb sucker. She only does it if she has her blanket but that is pretty much all night and at nap time too. Honestly, I'm in no hurry to get her to stop. Just like another commenter said, they're probably going to need braces anyway. Me and my 3 siblings all had braces and none of us sucked our thumb - so I don't think it really matters.

NanaV said...

Ok, everyone! Here's what worked for 3 of my kids. Thumb Guards. They're sold at medetal.com or something like that. Just google. They're silicone cylinders that slip over the thumb (or finger) and attach to the hand with a plastic can't-get-off-w/o-scissors carnival bracelet. Snap it on and don't take it off for 2-6 weeks. Works. Fairly comfy. Kinda costly. Helps if child WANTS to stop, but not really necessary.
I have 'em in 3 sizes. Hoping my youngest won't need them...

Lesley said...

My son was a serious thumb sucker and had a big callous on his thumb. The day before his 3rd birthday we told him the 3 year old rule was no thumb sucking. We took away his favorite movie and certain toys. Unfortunately that didn't work. One day I told him that he could chew gum once he quit sucking his thumb. That if he was old enough to chew gum he was too old to suck his thumb. It worked like a charm and he doesn't ever suck his thumb any longer. I would like to qualify that he has never had issues with choking and is good at following rules. He has only swallowed his gum once and always throws it in the garbage when he is done with it. Best of luck!

Life In Progress said...

Um, yeah, I'm no help. Caroline is four and a half and she still sucks her thumb too. HOWEVER, we have a family friend who is an orthodontist, and he assures me that it's not a huge cause for concern unless she does it after her permanent teeth start coming in.

He also said it often helps if you have the dentist discuss it with the child instead of having the parent nag about it. Sprout may be a little young for that tactic, but it's an idea for later.

In the meantime, if I find any great solutions I'll let you know!

Tez said...

I am no help, I didn't have soother or thumb sucker babies, they were boob suckers, in hindsight, the thumb or soother may have been a mite easier on the nipples!!! hehehe
All I know is that with any growth process in children, there is the idea they will "one day" be bigger, then there is the reality that they ARE bigger, and the new lifestyle that goes along with being bigger can be explained in the context of gradual learning...that way all the habits to change etc aren't too daunting for a wee brain!
At ages 8 and 7, my two still have their respective blanket (orangy), and stuffy (black bear); whatever tools and habits they have as children, all the more need for them as they grow and get more independant, it's important to have comfort and a place or a way to "check back" with security during that "step out". I don't believe taking away security items is actually helpful in any way, it will cause more stress and tension and those are typically the things that intiate the comfort behavior in the first place.
You're an awesome mommy, you'll make the best choice!

Bargainista said...

No advice here. Just want to say i enjoyed reading the comments. Think that Janet is the winner!(love her humor).

Karen L said...

It's definately a self-soothing technique and one I let my children engage in. The oldest sucked her thumb till about 2, the next only for a few months (she was a lazy nurser, too lol), the youngest till 7 or so. They only did it at night and I saw no harm to their teeth!