We all know how precious it can be to see a little baby drifting off to sleep, thumb tucked in the mouth, happy as can be. For many children, thumb sucking begins as early as the womb and can be a way for them to help calm down, or a soothing technique at bedtime. Around the age of 2-4 years, children begin to develop new coping skills that usually replace thumb sucking. Dentists used to believe that as long as children stopped sucking their thumb before their permanent teeth were developed, there would be little impact to the mouth and jaw. We now know that habitual thumb sucking during toddler years can have an impact on the shape and position of the mouth and teeth.
So, if you have a habitual thumb sucker, how can you help them to quit?
- DON’T pop their thumb out of their mouth. This can be a soothing activity to help rid anxiety, and they should feel safe and not overwhelmed with quitting.
- DO try to limit thumb sucking time to bedtime, etc.
- DO use positive reinforcement when you notice your child not sucking his thumb, rather than being confrontational.
- DON’T prohibit thumb sucking after injury. A child during this time should feel comforted.
- DO practice self-awareness by asking your child, “Do you know you are sucking your thumb right now?”
- DON’T use the nasty stuff that is marketed to stop thumb sucking.
- DON’t try a glove or mitten to help alleviate thumb sucking. This can lead to more anxiety.
- DO remember to make your child feel happy and encouraged, rather than confronted and pushed. Children will outgrow this eventually; some just need a little more help!
Dentist in Round Rock, TX
For more tips and trick on thumb sucking, feel free to call us or come by our office today!