Thumb Sucking: Helping Your Child Break The Habit

Oct 14, 2013

Thumb sucking is a normal and common habit among young children. For the most part it is completely harmless, and can be pretty adorable. But once your child hits a certain age this cute habit can have some negative side effects. Children who continue to suck their thumb after their permanent teeth have begun to come in are at risk for developing a malformed bite or speech impediments. The American Dental Association assures parents that thumb sucking usually doesn’t have serious side effects so long as the child does not suck aggressively. A child who sucks aggressively is more likely to have a stronger tongue thrust, moving and affecting the mouth.Dentist Austin - Thumb Sucking: Helping To Break The Habit

Here are some simple ways to help your child in kicking the habit:

  • Remember that thumb sucking is something your child does in an effort to comfort herself. Refrain from punishing or chastising her for this behavior as your response may only cause her to want to do it more.

  • Always try to use positive reinforcement instead of punishment when you can. Offer small rewards in exchange for your child’s attempts to quit thumb sucking. Give short spans of time where, if there’s no thumb sucking, she can earn a small reward like an extra television show.

  • Spend some time trying to recognize what situational conditions bring about your child’s thumb sucking. Is it always close to bedtime? Is it when she’s hungry/frustrated? Identifying these causes can help you beat thumb sucking to the punch. If it’s been awhile since she’s last eaten and you think she might begin sucking, offer a snack.

Remember that usually thumb sucking is a habit that resolves itself, and if not simple guidance can often help. Call Dr. Arzegar of the Lifetime Smiles today and schedule a free consultation!

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