Methods to Get Your Child to Stop Sucking their Thumbs

Thumb sucking may seem harmless at first, but as the child continues the bad habit it will become a problem as we covered last year. The habit not only leads to physical consequences, it can result in emotional and social issues. There are a variety of reasons that thumb sucking is a negative coping mechanism. While developing as a way for the child to comfort themselves when they’re stressed, sad, or uncomfortable, if it continues the child will have trouble using new ways of coping and dealing with the world around them. Below are the reasons that thumb sucking is a bad habit and a few methods to get them to stop.

Malocclusion, Skin Irritation, & Speech Impediments

There are a wide variety of physical consequences that result from thumb sucking. When a child sucks their thumbs, it can result in teeth malocclusion, which is when the teeth are directed outwards. Either the top or both rows will be misaligned, which may require professional orthodontic treatment. When the mouth is closed, the teeth won’t touch.

Thumb sucking can also cause skin irritation and other problems. The moisture from the child’s mouth may cause a rash, peeling, cracking, bleeding, and ingrown nails. The thumb may become calloused. When your child continues to suck their thumbs, it can become vulnerable to infections.

Finally, thumb sucking can lead to the development of a speech impediment. When the child continues the bad habit, they can develop a lisp or have trouble pronouncing specific consonant sounds. Since thumb sucking affects the teeth, jaw, and palate, it may produce a speech impediment and impact the way the child eats and speaks. A speech impediment may not only be a physical consequence, it can become a social issue.

Social Complications

When a child sucks their thumbs, it can get in the way of their ability to express themselves. Whether they have a speech impediment or not, your kid may have trouble talking and communicating. This causes issues socially, but thumb sucking may lead to your child getting ridiculed. Children are cruel and could be mean to your kid when they have a prolonged habit of thumb sucking. Thumb sucking can cause some serious social issues, but it can also impact their emotions.

Emotional Consequences

If a child continues to suck their thumbs, they will have a hard time developing emotional coping mechanisms. Not only does the habit lead to other negative addictive behaviors, instead of dealing with their emotions the child will suck their thumbs. Not only will they have trouble communicating, they won’t develop the emotions necessary to handle life and their relationships. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause a lot of emotional problems if they don’t stop.

Hand Stopper

One way that you can get your child to stop sucking their thumbs is to use a nipit hand stopper. This product wraps around the elbow to prohibit the child from getting their thumb in their mouth. Your kid won’t be able to suck their thumbs because they won’t be able to. It is a good way to stop the habit because they won’t be able to suck their thumb at all.

Nail Polish

Another product that will discourage your child from sucking their thumbs is nail polish for thumb sucking. This is specifically-designed nail polish that tastes bitter. Children hate the taste of bitterness so every time they go to suck their thumbs they will stop. It is a great way to get them to stop because the child won’t be able to handle the taste.

Thumb Guards

You can also purchase a thumb guard or a thumbsie. Thumb guards are plastic guards that wrap around the wrist and cover the thumb. The child won’t get as much satisfaction as they would. It won’t be as comforting and it will encourage them to stop sucking their thumbs. A similar product is a thumbsie, which is a cloth cover that will be a barrier to the thumb. Your child will still be able to suck their thumbs but it won’t be as satisfying because they will be sucking on a cloth.

If talking to your child isn’t enough and these methods don’t work, it may be a good option to take your kid to a professional child psychologist who can give you specific tips on how to get them to stop and provide insight into your child’s development. When all else fails, take them to a professional.

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