How to stop thumb / finger sucking - 2 Y/O (30months) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 03-24-2011, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter turned two in October of last year, so she is 30 months old. I haven't really been on here since I was preggo, but I am at a loss on this one and I'm hoping to find some like-minded moms with better ideas than I have on the subject.

 

My daughter is generally very well adjusted, smart, happy girl. She eats great, sleeps great, potty trained easily, well behaived, articulate, the works. The easiest kid I have ever seen. My problem is that she sucks the two middle fingers on her right hand.

 

It is my fault. I'm a single mom and I've worked full time and went to school part time from since she was very young, so we have always been very busy. She was never on formula, but when I was away she drank expressed breast milk from a bottle. She weaned at 11 months, which I regret now, but I hated pumping so much I just let it happen. I really feel that the finger sucking was/is her way of coping with stress and compensating for lack of comfort from sucking at the breast.

 

I tried to cut down on it since she was about one. For quite awhile she has only done it when she is hurt/upset, or really sleepy. As soon as she actually falls asleep the fingers come out. I felt this wasn't *that* big of deal in the big scheme of things, so I didn't fight about it.

 

We had our first dentist visit a few weeks ago, and the dentist confirmed what I had noticed also. The finger sucking is pushing her front teeth. I'm confident the way they are turned is entirely due to the finger sucking, not just the way they are.

 

I have tried to reason with her, but this is a deeply rooted comfort mechanism for her. She understands it is hurting her teeth, and she tries not to. She even tried so hard last night not to suck them that she was whimpering and crying fighting with the urge. She almost made it to sleep without them, but they did go in for about ten minutes when she was half-asleep.

 

What do I do?

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#2 of 17 Old 04-04-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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I am so sad that no one has responded to your question b/c DS does something very similar.

 

He was a paci baby and I took that away last June, when he was 22 months. We still let him use one when he sleeps in bed, but that's it.  So he was fine after a couple of days, then in October he started sucking on his index finger.  AT first just a little bit, now a ton.  Especially when he's doing something quiet, in the car, or he loses his paci in bed.  I don't know what to do, either.

 

 


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#3 of 17 Old 04-04-2011, 09:37 PM
 
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When my guy was 4ish he and I came up with the plan to sleep with his favorite doggie and socks on his hands. He could take them off at any time and sometimes did but it got less and less frequent
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#4 of 17 Old 04-04-2011, 09:40 PM
 
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My daughter still sucks her thumb and she is four! I am not even close to worried about it. Life is hard. Life is stressful. I wish I could suck my thumb too! She is also from an orphanage and lived there for six months. We were told all of them suck their fingers/thumbs.

The one thing we did do was tell dd she could only suck her thumb when she was going to bed. Then, we she tried during the day, we said "you have to go up for a nap if you are going to suck your thumb." She stopped right away and now very easily only does it at bedtime. Works for me.

Oh, and btw, it's not your fault! And it's not their's either. I think we get way to freaked out by it all. DD has messed up front teeth but they are her baby teeth for crying out loud. I don't mean to sound callous or like I am belittling it but there are bigger problems. Don't beat yourself up about it. hug2.gif

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#5 of 17 Old 04-04-2011, 09:57 PM
 
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I would just let it be. Sucking your thumb or fingers at two is not a sign of any sort of emotional or psychological problems, and it wont cause any irreparable damage to her either.


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#6 of 17 Old 04-05-2011, 10:24 AM
 
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This post made me really sad for some reason! I wish i had some advice but it sounds like a hard situation. No advice but maybe it isn't as bad as it seems? I sucked my thumb until i was EIGHT years old. The dentist was very worried about my teeth and i had a Huge gap between the front teeth. Well turns out now i have an amazing smile. Better alignment then most people that had braces had. They just kind went back into place when i stopped sucking. I gave up the thumb on my own when i was ready after years of people doing everything to get me to stop. I think i just started to get really embarrassed about sucking my thumb. I had to hide that i was doing it when i was at sleep over parties etc and i started to realize i was to old to do it. I think maybe try some gentle encoragement but try not to let it bother you to much. She obviously really needs the comfort. i know i did! good luck!

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#7 of 17 Old 04-05-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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Oh, I wouldn't beat yourself up. My guy is still nursing when I'm home at 21 months, but I work full time and he does a bit of serious thumb sucking when he goes to sleep or is tired. I'm not that worried about it, it's pretty low on my list of things to freak out about (and believe me, it's a long list!). If it messes up his teeth a little, we'll deal with it when it happens. Honestly, he was such a high needs baby (with all the sleep horror stories that go with it) that I'm just thrilled he can go to sleep without boob in his mouth at this point (that took a lot of work on both our parts to make happen).

 

If I were you, I'd be gentle with yourself and your daughter and just let her have her comfort mechanism and figure she'll give it up when she's ready. Try not to feel guilty.

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#8 of 17 Old 04-05-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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My son's 2.5 and he sucks his thumb.  He also has a bit of an overbite but the dentist didn't seem too concerned.  He's probably going to need braces at some point anyway.  I'm hoping he'll stop on his own, but I'm not going to force him to unless he wants to quit. 


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#9 of 17 Old 04-05-2011, 03:44 PM
 
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My oldest DD sucked her thumb too.  When she was about 4, we made a rule that she could only suck her thumb on her bed.  If she felt she needed to suck her thumb, she was free to go to her bed and suck at anytime, but it was restricted to her bed.  We felt that she was sucking her thumb to deal with stress, and taking the time to re-group helped her.  When she was around 6 1/2, she told me that her doll made her suck her thumb (she did twiddle the doll's tag when she sucked her thumb) and that she wanted to give it up, so her doll would sleep at the end of her bed.  She gave it up on her own, no issues.

 

Other than restricting the place at age 4, we never pressured her to quit.  I sucked my thumb FOREVER.  The harder my mom tried to make me quit, the more I was anxious and needed to suck my thumb.  My vote is to leave it alone until she is older.  

 

ETA: My dd did need braces, but so does my other kids who never sucked their thumbs.  It has more to do with the size of their teeth and jaws than thumb/finger sucking - although that can affect it.

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#10 of 17 Old 04-06-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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Did not have time to read all the responses but please don't beat yourself up over this!!

 

I would not blame the finger sucking on you working and going to school.  My nephew only went to daycare for a few hours a few times a week (SIL worked 3-11 so he would be there for a few hours until BIL got off work at 4:30) and he was a hardcore thumb sucker - he still does it occassionally and he's 8.  When my niece was born SIL stopped working all together so she was never in daycare at all, and she sucks her thumb and first finger all the time - she'll be 5 next month.  I think some kids are just thumb suckers, it's ingrained or something.

 

Also, regarding teeth - I sucked my thumb until I was in the 3rd grade (but only at night from probably age 4 up).  My front teeth did stick out some.  With a little encouragement from my mom, I agreed that I wanted to stop (sleepovers were starting at that age and I was embarrassed).  She got some of that yucky tasting stuff to coat my thumb, and within a week I was no longer a thumbsucker.  Teeth moved back into their right place and I have perfect teeth now - never had braces or a retainer.

 

I know hearing about kids sucking their thumbs until the age of 8 might be a little frightening, but the message here is no harm was done by it, so try not to worry too much about it right now. 


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#11 of 17 Old 04-06-2011, 07:40 AM
 
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My mom SAH with me and I sucked my 2 middle fingers until I was 7 Sheepish.gif.  I have perfect teeth and always have.  It was totally just a comfort for me.  I was perfectly able to *not* suck my fingers at sleepovers or anywhere I was uncomfortable with it. My parents discouraged it, but never made a huge deal about it.  I stopped sucking my fingers when I was ready and it was never an issue.  Since weaning off my fingers I started picking my thumb, which I still do, 20 years later.   I am a healthy, well adjusted adult; I think some people are just going to have a habit/tick no matter what. Go easy on yourself, you are doing great! hug2.gif  She'll stop when she's ready.

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#12 of 17 Old 04-06-2011, 08:06 AM
 
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Please don't say this is your "fault"!  Got news for you--my mom was a SAHM and good with me when I was little, I think...guess when I quit sucking my thumb?  Um, I still suck it sometimes.  I am 40 years old.  I have stopped on and off in my adult life but just never quit altogether.  My teeth are fine.  When I quit smoking in my thirties, I picked up the thumb again and was glad to have something that was healthy and available for comfort when I needed it (in private, of course).  I liked the sock idea a PP mentioned IF your daughter is ever motivated to quit for whatever reason, but my thought is this:  I WISH my 1 year old did suck his thumb or a paci.  We tried both many times after BFing was in place and he just never took.  I prefer thumb-sucking to a paci because it can be self-initiated and you never have to worry about getting stuck somewhere without a paci and with a sad child.  I think you are doing awesome for hanging in there with BFing and pumping for as long as you did!  And I totally get hating pumping...it bothered me so much that sometimes I got kinda ill over it.  Misaligned teeth are correctable if it becomes a major issue later in her life.  Give yourself and your kid a happy break...let it go on until she has some reason that she would like to stop.

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#13 of 17 Old 04-06-2011, 10:38 AM
 
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I really have my doubts as to how much it really affects teeth.. especially if she doesn't do it in her sleep! My dd is also a thumbsucker, she needs it for comfort. It doesn't seem to be related to any factors that we as moms can control, though, it's not your "fault." I wouldn't really try to push for her to stop, either. I feel our dd at least will stop when she's ready. I think that the psychological need must outweigh any physical dental damage, at least for us.


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#14 of 17 Old 05-22-2012, 09:25 PM
 
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I have a 3 year 7 month old that sucks his thumb.  I really agree with everyone else that we should just let them be and they will stop when they are ready.  My hubby thinks that we should push/punish him to stop but everytime someone gets on him about sucking his thumb or punishes him in any way it seems to just make him do it more.  My hubby and I are separated now and I am living with my mom for the time being and she also wants him to just stop....and I don't know how to tell them nicely to lay off of him about it.  My sister has always had a problem with kids sucking their thumbs and that is a bone of contention between the two of us constantly.  Any ideas on what I can do in this situation?  

 

One thing about the thumbsucking too, he started doing it pretty young....right after we got rid of the paci I think.  When he started it was mainly just when he was falling asleep or if he was upset about something.  Now he seems to do it all the time.  He started doing it before his dad and I got separated so that isn't the problem (I don't think)  but I just don't know.  He's also the typical oppositional three year old so I wonder if the reason he's doing it all the time now isn't because everyone keeps getting on him to stop doing it.  Any help or comments are appreciated.  Thanks!!

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#15 of 17 Old 05-24-2012, 04:55 AM
 
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I don't have time to read all responses either, but this is a subject that hits very close to home for me.  I am an adult thumb sucker, yup that's right. My parents insist that I started sucking my thumb pretty soon after they took my pacifier away at 3, and that I had always had a high need for reassurance in the way of sucking.  I was breastfed and cared for just fine, so I don't think that has anything to do with it.  my 19 month old DD is the same way -she loooooves her paci, and because of my experience I have no plans of taking it away anytime soon.

 

But i have to say this, the lengths that my parents went through, to get me to stop sucking my thumb, were far more traumatic than the actual habit.  I had mittens duck taped to my hands at night, the orthodontist suggested I carry a stuffed animal around at school as a visual reminder (you don't actually realize when you're sucking your thumb, it's completely subconscious) so I got made fun of in school for being a "baby" because it drew more attention than just the thumb sucking ever had.  My parents tried nail polish, bribing, you name it.  And I cannot describe to you, the feeling of needing comfort -in the only way you know how -and having it withheld from you.

 

Now, as a mother and 27 yr old woman, I STILL suck my thumb in my sleep.  It used to be something that I was ashamed of and embarrassed of, and now I couldn't' care less.  we have some WEIRD cultural ideas about what's acceptable, and I understand the association of thumb sucking with poor teeth (mine are VERY MILDLY pushed out, but nothing that warrants fixing)  I think that when your daughter is older, perhaps 4 or 5 or even 6, you could start implementing the idea of thumb sucking only at bedtime.  There could possible be a pretty bracelet put on her wrist or a pretty ring on her thumb, to remind her during the day of what she's doing, and she could in the beginning get some rewards for wanting to suck it, but not doing it during the day, but if she needs it, she needs it.

 

I really wouldn't worry about it right now, it's not worth the stress for either of you.  And the last thing you should be doing is blaming yourself!  There's nothing to blame.  It's simply a way of comforting ourselves, and I would imagine, with a healthy and respectful approach from her parents, she'll be just fine.  good luck!

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#16 of 17 Old 05-24-2012, 06:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hildare View Post

I really have my doubts as to how much it really affects teeth.. especially if she doesn't do it in her sleep! My dd is also a thumbsucker, she needs it for comfort. It doesn't seem to be related to any factors that we as moms can control, though, it's not your "fault." I wouldn't really try to push for her to stop, either. I feel our dd at least will stop when she's ready. I think that the psychological need must outweigh any physical dental damage, at least for us.


i'm quoting myself because things changed for us since i wrote that.  our dd was picking up colds everywhere she went and after we had our ds, i couldn't stand the illnesses being passed around.  i tried to help dd sanitize her hands but i couldn't do it frequently enough to keep her from touching things and transferring germs directly to her mouth and nose. 

i talked to her about it and said we were going to get nail polish stuff that tasted bad to help her.  she seemed ok with the idea, so i got some from amazon.  malva stop, i think is the name of it.

she was fully aware of what was happening as we explained it.  she let us put it on, and to my amazement, it worked.  she had zero problems with stopping.  literally, zero.  i was sort of expecting the worst, but i don't know if she was just ready to stop or if it wasn't that big of a deal to her.  she even told us when it wore off and let us put more on.  i know that sounds pretty crazy, because i had really struggled with the whole affair, but it absolutely worked, seamlessly.  if you think your kid's ready to stop and can understand what's happening, it's worth a shot.  we figured if she reacted badly it was easy enough to remove.


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#17 of 17 Old 05-24-2012, 06:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hildare View Post


i'm quoting myself because things changed for us since i wrote that.  our dd was picking up colds everywhere she went and after we had our ds, i couldn't stand the illnesses being passed around.  i tried to help dd sanitize her hands but i couldn't do it frequently enough to keep her from touching things and transferring germs directly to her mouth and nose. 

i talked to her about it and said we were going to get nail polish stuff that tasted bad to help her.  she seemed ok with the idea, so i got some from amazon.  malva stop, i think is the name of it.

she was fully aware of what was happening as we explained it.  she let us put it on, and to my amazement, it worked.  she had zero problems with stopping.  literally, zero.  i was sort of expecting the worst, but i don't know if she was just ready to stop or if it wasn't that big of a deal to her.  she even told us when it wore off and let us put more on.  i know that sounds pretty crazy, because i had really struggled with the whole affair, but it absolutely worked, seamlessly.  if you think your kid's ready to stop and can understand what's happening, it's worth a shot.  we figured if she reacted badly it was easy enough to remove.

Glad that worked for you! DS, who is six, is a hard-core nail/finger-skin biter (to the point where it gets so infected we have had to put him on antibiotics) and we just had this talk with him. He was on-board and we ordered the Malva-stop and he said it was DELICIOUS! Truly an odd child, but for us the nasty-tasting polish actual caused an increase in the fingers-in-mouth problem :-) Go figure

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