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15 year old sucks her thumb

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
My daughter, who is not quite 14, has a friend who is 15 and sucks her thumb. Quite a bit.

My mom told me I shouldn't let my daughter hang around with her because it's a sign of some kind of mental instability ??? It had never bothered me before, but now I'm wondering if I should be concerned. The girl is quite immature in other ways too (the fact she hangs out with my daughter who is over a year and half younger is another sign she's immature)

Does anyone know anything about this?
post #2 of 42
I wouldn't worry. Kids have their quirks, KWIM? Also (not being snarky, I swear!) why would the fact the girl has younger friends be a sign of immaturity? She's probably got friends her own age, too. Younger friends, at least IME, aren't really a sign of can't-handle-same-age friends.
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
I suppose the fact she has younger friends in itself wouldn't indicate that she's immature, but taken with everything else it's one example. She is quite immature.

I sometimes wish my mom understood me better!
post #4 of 42
i sucked my finger until i was a teenager, i can't believe i am admitting that online. my first roommate in college was still sucking her thumb, while it can be a sign of insecurity it's also a habit that's just really hard to break, like any habit. i think it would be worse for your dd's friend if she were to lose friends over this, it would make any insecurity she feels worse. i was bullied as a kid and i guess finger sucking (only at home and at night) was a form of security. i don't think it's very harmful. and as for hanging out with kids younger than her, when i was in highschool i had friends in all grades. i was good friends with 9th graders when i was in grade 12, i wouldn't be too concerned.
post #5 of 42
No, I don't believe thumb sucking in teens or adults is any indication of abnormality.

Depending on the way she demonstrates immaturity, I would not have a problem with my child being friends with someone who is no hurry to grow up. Is she just "young" for her age, or does she make very poor or selfish choices, kwim? There is a difference.

As far as mental instability -- I know plenty of mentally unstable people who are delightful friends. LOL! Though I wonder on some level if she meant learning disabled, or developmentally delayed -- which would be offensive, I think -- to suggest avoiding a friendship with a person because of a disability. But either way -- I don't think that thumb sucking indicates a problem. Other than the fact that she is probably spreading some germs.
post #6 of 42
There are adults who suck their thumb. If anything, it might be a sign of insecurity, but nothing hostile or bad that anyone needs to stay away from.
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaduck View Post
Though I wonder on some level if she meant learning disabled, or developmentally delayed -- which would be offensive, I think -- to suggest avoiding a friendship with a person because of a disability. But either way -- I don't think that thumb sucking indicates a problem.
I wonder if my mom meant developmentally delayed. I thought she meant something more insidious.

Insidious thumbsuckers - good grief. The generation gap just keeps getting wider and wider the older we get.
post #8 of 42
I agree with the others, I don't think it's anything to worry about. Kids have habits that are difficult to break, just like adults. At least it's nothing harmful.
post #9 of 42
An old wives' tale I heard is that people suck their thumb into adolescence/adulthood because they were weaned too early or too harshly.

Not sure if it's true or what, but it's out there!
post #10 of 42
I dunno- my 14 yr old sucks her thumb, is very mature for her age, has friends of all ages and more than capable of dealing with life. Her thumb suckin' days are coming to an end though. She's getting braces soon
post #11 of 42
I don't think it's a sign of mental instability. It could be a sign that something is going on, but so what if it is? It sounds like she could use a friend.
post #12 of 42
I have heard a lot of professionals state that if a young child is constant bothered to not suck their thumb, it reinforces the need/habit to do so. But if left alone about it, they outgrow it by around the 3rd grade. (I think I got that right.)

Maybe her parents tried to force her to stop before she was ready and now its harder to stop. That was the case with my younger sister. My dad made such a big huge deal about it, and to this day, she still sucks her thumb. She is almost 22, married, and just had her first baby last weekend. A very mentally stable woman, if you ask me!
post #13 of 42
There is a woman in my community who is a strong leader, very well respected, pulls people together. She sucked her thumb until she was 11 years old. No mental instability there. It was just super comforting. She got over it eventually.
post #14 of 42
My sister, now a stable, master's degree-earning woman with lots of friends, sucked her thumb throughout adolescence, probably into college.

I think I may have contributed to it with my budding psychology. I am 10 years older, and I tried to get her to stop by promising her a Pound Puppy for her fifth birthday. I helped her set up a system for quitting a month before her birthday...it worked temporarily and she "earned" her Pound Puppy. But the sucking continued. It is a hard habit to break and very comforting.


And my best friend since 5th grade (over 25 years ago) is 1.5 years younger than me. I don't think I was immature (although I did go through puberty late). We just happened to "click" and stuck together ever since!
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ananas View Post
I don't think it's a sign of mental instability. It could be a sign that something is going on, but so what if it is? It sounds like she could use a friend.
A family acquaintance's now 17 year old daughter still sucks her thumb. She's a normal person, does well in school, has friends, etc etc...But her home/personal life has and still can be pretty chaotic, parents aren't very reliable, very selfish people. She's obviously hung on to this habit for comfort, and because she has a lot of what pretty much everyone else who's replied to the OP mentioned-instability. But I wouldn't prevent my kids from hanging around with her just because she sucks her thumb. I second that this girl could use a friend.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ananas View Post
I don't think it's a sign of mental instability. It could be a sign that something is going on, but so what if it is? It sounds like she could use a friend.
:

Also, I don't really understand why anyone would think she is immature just because she hangs out with someone almost 2 years younger than her. That's not much of an age difference between friends at all.
post #17 of 42
I sucked my thumb until age 5 or so, when I promptly began biting my fingernails- which I continued to do through adulthood. Now I pick at my nails instead of biting them.

Some people just have stronger oral fixations than others. It could be a sign of a sensory issue- but if she's otherwise well adjusted I'd call it a "quirk" no matter what the underlying reason is for the thumb sucking.

I would never say "don't hang out with her because she sucks her thumb". Nor am I a big fan of restricting teenager's friendships in general. If I see my child getting mistreated by a peer, I work with my child to establish boundaries that she can set with her friends in order to protect herself. I will step in and take more direct action if I feel the need- but so far that hasn't come up.

I'd talk to your DD about how this girl interacts with her. If it's a healthy interaction, then there's nothing to worry about. If you see some unhealthy things in their interaction, then talk to your daughter when the friend isnt' around, and help her develop strategies for setting limits with this other girl.
post #18 of 42
I don't think it in any way indicates a mental imbalance or violent tendencies.
She could be doing it for a wide variety of reasons.....boredom or maybe as a self soothing mechanism..
I twist and play with my hair once in awhile. Always the same section of hair on each side. I have 3 sisters and 3 of the 4 of us do it. I'm ok.
post #19 of 42
my sister is 21 yrs old and still sucks her thumb. she has TMJ and has needed a ton of dental work

she is sort of mentally unstable BUT I don't necessarily think the thumb sucking is related. my parents divorced when she was 7 which is right around the time many children naturally quit. I think because of that disruption in her life, she needed it for comfort and sort of missed the developmental window for stopping on her own. after that, I think the multiple techniques forced upon her including orthodontics, bad tasting stuff, bandages etc- totally backfired and further ingrained the behavior.

I think it's sad to say that someone shouldn't be friends with another person for doing something that isn't hurting anyone (besides their own teeth/jaw!)
post #20 of 42
My niece is also a thumb sucker. She is 18 and a college freshman. She is smart, popular and athletic. My sister tried everything when my niece was 6-7, when people really started to comment that she was "too old." Nothing worked, and her ped said to let it go, because peer pressure would stop it. Nope, my niece didn't care. Over the years, it has decreased quite a bit, but she still will do it when she's stressed or bored. She's incredibly well-adjusted and quite normal. Even if she weren't, I can't imagine reducing my dd's exposure -- there are a lot worse things kids can be up to.
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