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This one is about: Thoughts on Thumbsucking

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I agree. Most children will outgrow thumbsucking on their own. It is best not to push them too soon to quit. However, if they do not quit by age 6 years old, you need to start looking at some ways to help your child quit the thumb habit.

I recommend the following:

1. Help your child recognize the importance of quitting the thumb habit. As long as your child does not recognize the importance or feel the need to quit, you will be fighting an uphill battle that invariably, you will lose.

2. Once your child reaches the conclusion that he/she needs to quit, you can help them out in a positive manner. Take a large calendar and put your child's name on it. Get a box of stickers. Tell your child that for every day he/she does not suck the thumb or finger, a sticker will be placed on that day on the calendar. When there are 3 or 4 in a row, a predetermined reward will be given. The longer the time, the greater the reward. This helps both your child and you, to visualize the goal. It helps parents look for times when children are not sucking and praising them for it. All too often, parents call attention to the sucking habit. Even though it may be negative attention, it is still attention the child is getting from you when he or she is sucking.

3. If your child is sucking only at night time, try athletic tape. Tape the finger or thumb that your child most favors sucking. The tape is fussy and tastes bad. And, if your child tries to take it off in the middle of the night while asleep, it is too sticky for them to be able to do it without waking up.

I hope this is helpful.

John R. Liu, DDS
Dental Consultant, Wide Smiles

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