5 Tips to Stop Thumb Sucking Habit in Kids

Dec 10 , 2020

Doan Khanh

5 Tips to Stop Thumb Sucking Habit in Kids

It’s normal for a baby to put their finger or thumb in their mouth as a way to self-soothe, or fall asleep. And, there’s no harm in this habit during this time. In fact, your baby likely started doing it in the womb and created a habit as an infant. Thumb sucking often goes away on its own once they reach toddlerhood. However, if it doesn’t, thumb sucking can affect your kid’s and cause some dental problems as early as 2 years old. So, here are a few tips parents can do when attempting to stop thumb sucking in kids.

Create a Diversion

Tips to Stop Thumb Sucking Habit in Kids

Your child is likely sucking their thumb to cope with feeling scared, anxious, or bored. So, whenever you see your kid suck their thumb, give them something else to do with their hands. If it’s because of nervousness, give your kid a stress ball to squeeze.

On the other hand, if your kid sucks their thumb when they're bored, encourage them to do activities like playing games with you to keep their hands busy. Also, you can consider substituting a pacifier if none of your distraction works. Although pacifiers can cause the same problems, it’s an easier habit to break.

Offer Praise & Reward

Remember to offer gentle reminders and praise your kid when they stop when you ask. Also, you should think of a reward for your kid, as long as it's not sweets! Toys, a trip to the park, or doing what they like will serve well. On top of that, you can create a sticker chart and give stickers whenever you see your kid put their thumb off. Remember to tell them that they can trade the stickers for rewards.

Point It Out and Explain the Consequences

While you don’t want to give thumb sucking too much attention because your child might do it more just to see your reaction. You should point it out if your child isn’t even aware they are doing it. For example, saying “No thumb” might be a good reminder to help your child become more aware of this bad habit. If your child is old enough, you can take them to the dentist for more advice. And, hearing a warning from a dentist can also help motivate your child to stop thumb sucking.

Use Tools

There are many thumb-sucking guards that are designed like a plastic cover for the thumb online. These products are quite effective and only range from about $20 to $40, which is way cheaper than a brace! Most kids aren’t able to get them off once they are on, which this bad habit is likely to disappear in about two weeks. However, the only downside is your kids might struggle to play or eat because the thumb cover limits their hand use.

Note: There are many stories about parents putting cayenne pepper or hot sauce on their children’s fingers in an attempt to get them to stop thumb sucking. However, taking extreme measures like this isn’t a good idea because it can harm your kid, especially if they rub their eyes. In addition, we do not recommend using any thumb sucking deterrent polish because some can leave a bad taste in your kid's mouth for days, make them feel sick or vomit.

Stay Calm

Yelling or insisting that your child stop sucking their thumb isn't helpful. Although you are worried about the potential damage they are doing to their teeth or the germs, getting upset with a child is not going to make it faster. Keep working on it but be patient with the process.

Although it can be stressful for parents to try to break their kid’s thumb-sucking habit. Also, keep in mind that the same strategies don't work for all kids. So, don’t give up! Remember that eventually, your kid will stop the behavior on their own when they are ready. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments!