How To Deal With Your Child’s Thumb Sucking?

Playgroup NSW

Mon 25-Sep-17

Categories: Parenting Tips

Every child resorts to thumb sucking at one point or another. Sometimes they stop on their own, but sometimes they don’t. These tips can help you. 

Most of the time thumb sucking is a soothing habit, but it can also be one of the ways your child asks for attention. Either way, thumb sucking is an unpleasant habit. 

How can you encourage your child to stop?

The experts at Mayo Clinic give some excellent ways to help you identify the underlying causes of thumb sucking and tips to effectively encourage them to stop. 

Let’s take a look at some of these techniques.

4 effective ways to encourage your child to stop sucking their thumb


Here are a few effective ways to deal with your thumb sucking. 

1. Talk to your child about how thumb sucking can be an unpleasant behaviour. Sometimes, simply talking to your child can help them understand this unpleasant habit and determine them to stop. However, this method can be successful only if your child also wants to stop. 

2. Ignore your child’s thumb sucking. If your child uses this behaviour only to get your attention, this method will prove to be successful. However, if seeking attention is not the underlying cause of the behaviour, be prepared to try something else.

3. Try positive reinforcement in the form of praising, small rewards such as a walk in their favourite park. The idea is to reward your child whenever you notice they don’t suck on their thumbs. 

4. Identify what triggers their behaviour. Your child might choose this unpleasant behaviour as a way to deal with distressing emotions such as stress or anxiety. Once you’ve identified the underlying cause, you can efficiently offer support. Try soothing your child with a hug or use reassuring words to calm them down. A stuffed animal can also become a great soothing tool for children. 

5. Sometimes, children suck on their thumbs mindlessly, not necessarily on purpose. If this is the case with your child, offering gentle reminders can work like a charm. Avoid scolding, criticizing or embarrassing your child in front of others. 

Your dentist can also help…


Talk to your dentist about the consequences thumb sucking can have on your child’s teeth. They can recommend some special dental appliances that can help stop your child’s behaviour. 

Your dentist can also have a talk with your child about thumb sucking. In some cases, this approach works better than the classic talk with mum and dad. 

Before you worry about your child’s thumb sucking, remember every child is different. Some children stop this behaviour simply by you talking to them about it. For some children, it can be harder to stop. 

One thing is for sure, once your child starts kindergarten or school, chances are they'll stop on their own. Peer pressure can be a magical tool sometimes.

Be patient with your child. And if there’s any cause for concern, make sure you talk to a specialist about it.  

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