Thumb Sucking

Conquering Thumb Sucking

Help Your Child Conquer the Habit of Thumb Sucking

Studies suggest that about 75% of all babies who are born in industrialized nations develop the habit of thumb sucking. The number is lessened in countries where the babies can easily and readily gain access to their mothers' breast for feeding.

Through that data, you may clearly infer that the habit of thumb sucking develops in babies and toddlers due to their reflexes when they are hungry. Those babies somehow get the perception that they may extract milk from sucking their thumb.

Thumb sucking is regarded as one habit that is comforting and relaxing to children. Experts assert that babies, even prior to birth, may already have developed the sucking habit when they were still in their mothers' wombs.

Thus, some babies are born with calluses in their wrist, finger or thumb, evidence that they may have already been hooked to the habit even before they were born.

Statistics also suggest that babies in industrialized countries to develop the habit more compared to their contemporaries in third world nations. It is because moms in industrialized nations are usually out for work and thus, the babies are not fed regularly by their nannies, wherein those from poor countries easily have access to their moms' breast.Thumb Sucking

Comforting and calming

The comforting and calming effect of thumb sucking makes babies truly hooked on the behavior. Almost all the babies have resorted or developed the habit at one point of their infancy.

In most cases, babies overgrow the thumb sucking habit when they reach at least three years old. Babies aged one year to three are the most susceptible to developing the habit. Another trivial concern is that 75% of baby girls tend to develop it more, compared to baby boys' 60%.

Take notice that babies are calmed and quiet whenever they suck their thumb. This, for some parents are blessings in disguise. However, some parents may not realize that the habit may tend to be destructive, especially when the child fails to outgrow it.

The findings of a 1970s report were alarming. The report showed that 10% of children around the world who are older than five years old still retain the habit of thumb sucking.

Parents fear that if their child still does not overcome the habit until they reach the age of five, thumb sucking would last until the child grows up. Thumb sucking may become a fixation that would be hard to resist.

Conquering the habit

Thumb SuckingThat is why measures should be taken by parents to help their child conquer the habit of thumb sucking.

Normally the habit ceases when the child reaches the age of four years. Thumb sucking usually recedes by itself even without the child being aware that he is losing the habit.

Otherwise, it is high time, you as a parent take simple and practical steps to step in and break the habit for your child's own welfare.

One measure you may adopt is to pre-empt the habit with other fun and interesting activities.

Remember, children with thumb sucking habits execute the annoying activity during idle hours.

Thus, if you keep the child pre-occupied with different activities, he may not suck his thumb. It is also an opportunity to make the child productive.

Second attempt is to divert the child's attention whenever he sucks his thumb. For example, during such hours, give him snacks or perhaps sugarless chewing gum.

Monitor the development of the child each day.

Set goals.

For example, if the child forgot to suck his thumb for an hour, the parent should take note of that. Then set goals for a whole day, then, for two, then for a week, until the habit is completely eradicated.

Do not resort to punishments as it may push the child into rebellion and further drive him towards thumb sucking. Other concerns and behavioral problems may also arise when the child is punished for a habit he is not aware is bad.

The childhood years are formative years and are crucial to the overall development of children.

These years will make and unmake children, so help them by break out from inappropriate habits.

Breaking a longstanding habit is difficult and some children may need additional help. Talk to your child's dentist, who may recommend inserting a device in the child's mouth that prevents sucking. These oral appliances go by names like "palatal bar" and "crib" and come in fixed and removable versions.

If the problem seems particularly resistant to treatment, this may be a signal that your child is troubled about a deeper problem, Goldstein says. In this case, you may want to seek the advice of a mental health professional


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