When your child starts sucking their thumbs, you might first think that it’s cute. When kids are young, it is an entirely acceptable form of dealing with teething, calming themselves, and coping emotionally. But after a while it begins to become a bad habit, children need to learn new ways to cope with the world and their emotions. Typically you don’t need to worry if your kid has their teeth coming in, but beyond that you should make sure to stop your children from sucking their thumbs. Not only can it emotionally stunt them, thumb sucking has physical consequences.
In addition to the ridicule your child may receive from kids their age, thumb sucking can cause some problems with emotional growth. Since thumb sucking is one of the first coping mechanisms babies used to overcome their first challenges, they need to stop the habit to develop new ones. It is integral for your child to become emotionally independent and work through their emotions. Thumb sucking makes them calm, but it doesn’t help their emotional growth. It can also be a sign of addictive behaviors. It is important to gradually get them to stop, or they will also have physical problems.
The physical consequences of thumb sucking are significant. First it can cause a speech impediment, which leads to more teasing from peers. Then it can cause skin problems—irritation, ingrown nails, cracking, and callusing. These are just the beginning. If your child sucks their thumbs longer than they should, it can cause dental issues.
The biggest problem for the teeth that thumb sucking can cause is malocclusion. Malocclusion is when the teeth are misaligned and directed outwards. It comes in the form of an open bite, meaning both rows of teeth are outward. With an open bite, the teeth don’t touch even if the mouth is closed. The other is an overbite, which is when just the top teeth are pointed outwards. Either way, both conditions can require dental care and may not be fixed if the thumb sucking has gone on long enough.
What to Do
There are a variety of ways to gradually get your child to stop thumb sucking. First, if the child is very young you can substitute a pacifier. While a pacifier isn’t that great either for your child’s development, it is a good way to get them to stop sucking their thumbs. Have them suck on the pacifier for a specific amount of time. If they continue to suck their thumbs right after, you should return to it for longer. If your child is one-year-old or below, use this method.
If your child is a bit older, more drastic measures should be taken. A lot of parents use socks to cover their children’s hands at night, but you can also take a look at the many products designed to do the same thing. One thing you should check out is a Thumbsie review. This product is a cloth that wraps around the wrist and covers the thumb so the child can’t suck it. It can make the difference because not only will it avoid the skin problems that can come from thumb sucking, a lot of children get bored of it and move on. That is the goal here. If your child can’t stop, try one of these.
A more extreme solution for older children who really need to stop thumb sucking is to buy specifically-designed nail polish. A bitter nail polish prevents children from sucking their thumbs because it tastes really bad to them. Kids don’t develop the bitter part of their palate until they get older so they will react very negatively to it and stop sucking their thumbs.
Finally, if you’ve tried everything and simply can’t get your child to stop sucking their thumbs you could get them a psychological evaluation to make sure they are developing at the proper rate. While thumb sucking can lead to emotional problems in the future, it can also be a symptom of stunted growth early on in life. You can have doctors and dentists tell your child why they need to stop sucking their thumbs, which could also help. The point is, if your child is still using the bad habit it is time to get them to stop.