Should I Be Concerned about My Child’s Thumb Sucking?

For many children, thumb sucking is a normal part of life. While most children eventually grow out of the habit on their own, others continue to suck their thumbs to the point where it could cause problems to the teeth and mouth.

In most cases, thumb sucking isn’t a cause for worry, but it is important to keep an eye on your child’s habits to see if the behavior is becoming a problem.

Normal Thumb Sucking Behavior

Most children that suck their thumbs begin at a very young age, perhaps even in the womb. Sucking can provide a sense of contentment and security, and it can also be relaxing. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own from 2-4 years of age, simply growing out of the habit. However, other children will continue to suck their thumbs beyond the preschool years, and if the behavior is continuing once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, it could be time to take action to try and break the habit.

Tips for Parents

If you are working with your child to give up his thumb sucking habit, try using some of the following tips:

  • Reward your child when he refrains from sucking during an especially difficult time, such as separation from a parent.
  • If your child sucks as a way to comfort himself, trying providing additional support to see if feels less of a need to suck.
  • Focus on the cause of your child’s anxiety and work on correcting this issue, especially if your child’s thumb sucking is a result of insecurity.
  • Put a large band aid on your child’s thumb to remind him of his habit and discourage him from sucking.

Whichever method that you try, remember that your child will need your support and patience during this challenging time.
Please contact us if you have any questions about thumb sucking.

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