HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD STOP THUMBSUCKING
Parents are always concerned whenever their babies or children suck on their thumbs. They are always wondering why their children are doing so and often scold them or slap their hands to stop them.
Babies have been known to thumbsuck even as young as 15 weeks from conception. Since we cannot delve into the mind and physiology of a fetus inside a mother’s womb, conclusive studies why a fetus would thumbsuck cannot be done. On the other hand, we do know why babies thumbsuck. At birth whenever you place something on your baby’s lips, their instinct is to suck on that object. That reflex is called “sucking reflex,” an instinct given by nature to help the baby survive outside the uterus. This way, the baby will need not be taught how to get milk from their mother’s breasts. Whenever babies are distressed, bored, or simply exploring their body parts or any object that they get in contact with, they put them in their mouths. Sigmund Freud classified this stage in his Psychoanalytic Theory as the Oral Stage. This stage must be satisfied appropriately in order for the
child not to carry it when they reach the age of 2. Unresolved, the baby will carry this desire to thumbsuck right up to the age of 7-10. This will now pose some orthodontic problems like alveolar prognathism
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To know how to stop your child from thumbsucking, you must know the root cause. Knowing the root cause will help you find ways to divert your child’s attention gradually from thumbsucking. Here are some common
reasons why your child thumbsuck.
your child may be distressed about something. See what he’s afraid of, what has caused such anxiety or fear. Most kids have been observed to thumbsuck after a heavy scolding from a parent, whenever they see their parents fight, or whenever he and a sibling or a friend fought over a toy. Comfort your child and do not forcibly remove his thumb from his mouth. Talk to him; console him until his fears or anxiety has been resolved. You’ll notice that every now and then he will remove his thumb as his distress is slowly removed. When he’s totally let go of his thumb that would be the time to tell him not to thumbsuck whenever he has problems, but come to you instead. Do not scold him for placing thumbsucking. If you slap his hand or scold him, he will only resume thumbsucking whenever you’re not around.
You’ll definitely notice that your child is bored by the way he walks, and on that dissatisfied expression you see in his face. Do not place him in front of the TV with his favorite cartoon.
What you need is an activity that would keep his hands busy and occupied.
Is it time to prepare dinner? Take him into the kitchen and let him help you with setting the table. Even if you don’t feel like it, bake something and have him help with mixing, or forming dough. Take him outside and play ball with him. Always keep his hands busy so he won’t remember sucking on it.
If all of these actions fail, have an appointment with an orthodontist
and have him explain the effects of thumbsucking.
Ask the orthodontist to show your child pictures of different children of with orthodontic problems because of thumbsucking. Remember that you need to be patient in helping your child stop. Usually, it takes about 2 weeks or more for the child to stop once you have used the appropriate measures to help him out of hismfixation. Children respond more to praise than harsh words, so remember to give encouraging words to your child whenever he’s not sucking his thumb