Tactics To Use If Your Child Sucks His Or Her Thumb

Many children suck their thumbs during certain stages of life, and occasional thumb sucking might not concern the pediatric dentist that you visit. However, some children who adopt this habit can do so to the point of harming their teeth, as the prolonged pressure placed on the upper teeth by the thumb can actually shift the alignment of the teeth. If you're slightly concerned that your child is sucking his or her thumb too much, it's important to discuss the issue at the next checkup or even call the dentist, like Bellasera Family Dentistry, between checkups to talk about strategies you can adopt to curb the habit. Here are some ideas to use in the meantime.

Reduce Stress

Some children develop the habit of thumb sucking because they're stressed, turning to this practice whenever they being to experience a bout of anxiety. If you notice this apparent trend in your child, try to evaluate what factors in the home might be contributing to the child's stress. Many children can't or won't express what is bothering them, so it's your job to take note. Is the house excessively loud? Are there frequent agitated discussions? If so, try to minimize these instances for the good of your child.

Keep The Hands Occupied

If you've noticed that your child mainly sucks his or her thumb when bored, try to anticipate these periods of downtime and offer something that will occupy the child. Get some art supplies out and do some painting, turn the backyard sprinkler on during a hot day and run through it or get out a bunch of toy cars and play with them on the kitchen floor. When your child has his or her hands and mind occupied, thumb sucking can become forgotten.

Offer Small Rewards

For older children who suck their thumbs, you can actually explain that this habit isn't very healthy for the teeth and that you'd like to encourage the child to stop. It's possible to reason in this manner with many children, especially if you provide a series of small rewards to celebrate days in which the child doesn't suck his or her thumb. The rewards don't have to be expensive; a simple solution is to buy a package of stickers and give your child a sticker at the end of each day that you haven't noticed this behavior. Depending on your budget, you might wish to provide larger rewards, such as a small toy, at the end of each week that thumb sucking hasn't occurred.