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Monday, August 4, 2014

How We Broke the Habit (Thumb Sucking)

thumb suck

Number 3 child and our first thumb sucker.  Pacifiers were a piece of cake, the month they turned 2 we cut the nipples off….ooops!  They are broken!  (actually around this time they had started to chew through them anyways, Number 2 kiddo got his pacifier nipple cut off before age 2 for this reason). 

But a thumb…that was new for me!  Can’t cut their thumbs off, so what?? 

First I decided to wait later than 2 to do something in this case.  I really felt like they needed to be able to be reasoned with a bit more.  Two was quite young to fully understand the concept of WHY they needed to give up thumb sucking.  Two year olds could understand their pacifier was broken, but their thumb, that’s a different story.

We decided to wait until age 3, but when 3 rolled around we had a new baby, a cross country move pending shortly…lots of changes, we figured we’d wait a bit longer.

After moving and getting settled we tackled the topic.  I researched a wide variety of stuff…honestly I had even tried a non-vomit liquid you add to their nails, and he sucked away as if it was nothing.  So I did more research….

I had read some horrible things about the yucky stuff you add to nails (the kind that would most likely induce vomiting) and well, that just didn’t sound fun (for me OR him).  So I opted for this

It was recommended for ages 5+, but I figured it was worth a shot. 

We ordered it and these books:

We talked about it leading up to the arrival of the items.  He thumb was really chapped from the change in weather and air (from moving from Hawaii to colder weather), so we discussed that and the affect that thumb sucking could have on his teeth.  We talked about how we had ordered a ‘thumb sucking glove’ to remind him not to suck his thumb.

We read the books when they came, and on went the thumb sucker.  He was 100% on board at first, but after a few days the thumb sucker was ‘lost’….we bought another one (and then found he had hid the first one).  The second time we initiated the sticker chart that comes with it! 

This was more motivation for him.  Within about a week he was no longer sucking his thumb during the day, even if he got sleepy in the car.  He no longer wore it during the day.  We continued to put it on at night though, but within a month he was no longer sucking his thumb at night.  (sometimes during that time we would forget, and I would hear him sucking when I was up with the baby, I would then put it on him, but after the 30days +/- this no longer happened if it wasn’t on).

We did reward him after getting so many stickers…rewards were daily stickers, and then a special treat, his final prize was a nerf dart gun, like his brothers. Of course prizes are up to you!

I know that all children are different, and what works with one doesn’t  work with all, but I wanted to share our experience. When I asked for suggestions on how to break the habit, I was berated by many to let them do it as long as they want.  I was not okay with this, but I feel that I was able to find a safe, kind way to encourage him to give up the habit.

He is a happy well adjusted kid, and there was little frustration during this process.  Aside from the time he hid his thumb glove, he would even remind us to put it on him at night if we forgot.  He would occasionally point out that his chapped thumb had healed, and we would again talk about how it also affects his teeth (could make his teeth yucky, we would say).  He understood, his brothers don’t suck their thumbs, (the baby sucks her finger)…he was ready, and I’m glad it worked out for us. 

Hopefully if you have a thumb sucker and are wanting to kindly break him of the habit without yucky chemicals, this works for you too!

1 comment:

  1. My daughter (4th child) was a thumb-sucker and I LOVED that when she was a baby and even a toddler, and I didn't have to hunt down lost pacis etc. But it was/is a VERY hard habit to break. So I can totally relate!! Glad you found an approach that worked, and it worked well. Congrats to your son for overcoming!


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