22 answers

7 Year Old Wants to Stop Thumbsucking

My almost 7 year old daughter wants to stop sucking her thumb because she's afraid her classmates will find out that she still does this and she's afraid she'll get teased. The other day at story time in class (they put their heads down and rest) she started falling asleep and found herself sucking her thumb. She's very worried it will happen again. Does anyone have any suggestions how to help her stop without resorting to painting her nails with toxic stuff that tastes so bad she'll throw up (her Dad did this once and she threw up all over her bed!).

What can I do next?

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My daughter was thumbsucker. We tried everything! Even the orthodontist could not help. Finally, I broke down and bought a thumbguard. She wore it for about 2 weeks, and has not sucked her thumb since. She is 10 now. The web-site: thttp://practicon.com/Medium-T-Guard-Appliance-Kit
I hope it works!

Just try putting a band-aid on her thumb. That way, if she puts it in her mouth unconciously, the strange feeling of the band-aid will get her attention. I sucked my thumb until I was quite old also and it was tough to break.

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Don't worry about it, your daughter is on it. She is right, she would be teased. Simply support & encourage her effort.
I don't know why people TRIP so hard on thumb-sucking. It is an excellent self comfort mechanism (impossible to lose). I was, and both my daughters too. It is BS that it ruins teeth (ours are straight). Second grade is where they really become aware of it, and they want to stop so people (peers) don't think they are BABIES. I have only ever met one grown up who sucked her thumb (ugh).

Had the same issue with my daughter many years ago. We put a "cast" on her thumb. Wrapped it with gauze and tape so when she put it in her mouth it was an immediate reminder. She left it on 24/7. It really worked and within a week she no longer sucked her thumb even at night.

Pamela (Pam) Marshalla is a speech language pathologist who is well regarded. She has a book which addresses cessation of thumb sucking. Although I am not recalling the title, you may be able to google her name and the other identifying information to get some results. I also know that the publishing company "Super Duper" (probably www.superduperspeech.com ) carries her books. Good luck!

Hello S.,
Thats great that she has decided to try and stop sucking her thumb her self. I was a finger sucker. And had no intention on stopping. I just hid it. My suggestion is to get her a pretty pair of gloves, she can put on before she lays down to rest. Then if she does put her thumb in her mouth with out realizing it, she will become aware when she feels the glove. And she could just tell the other kids her hands were cold if they ask about the gloves. I hope that works for her. Good luck

Hi! My daughter also wanted to stop sucking her thumb around that age (she's 15 now), because she knew she was developing an overbite from all that sucking. We made a contract together and set goals to keep the thumb out of her mouth. For each milestone of time with NO thumb in mouth, we had little rewards we agreed upon. We then sat down and took an old pair of Dad's white tube socks and made sock puppets out of them. When she would go to sleep each night, she would put on her puppets and have me safety pin the top of them to her pj sleeves (so she couldn't pull them off). This worked like a charm to break her of slipping the thumb into her mouth when she slept. (She still has the puppets). Waking hours, she found other things to keep her little fingers busy (especially on long drives)...a little silly putty or clay can make a huge difference. I wish you and your daughter the best!

My daughter was thumbsucker. We tried everything! Even the orthodontist could not help. Finally, I broke down and bought a thumbguard. She wore it for about 2 weeks, and has not sucked her thumb since. She is 10 now. The web-site: thttp://practicon.com/Medium-T-Guard-Appliance-Kit
I hope it works!

Just try putting a band-aid on her thumb. That way, if she puts it in her mouth unconciously, the strange feeling of the band-aid will get her attention. I sucked my thumb until I was quite old also and it was tough to break.

Hi S.,

I have a brother who sucked his thumb when we were younger and this is what my mom did to stop it.

Try using the Stop the Nail Biting polish. Unlike tying a ribbon around the thumb, which could lead to questions by her schoolmates, it's invisible and tastes yucky!!! It's best to apply directly after bath-time so the skin has a chance to absorb it and apply two to three times daily.

Good Luck!!

Just tell her to stop it!! She is old enough to have complete control over this. It IS that simple.


In case it does happen again, can you think of some way she could make a joke out of it and turn the attention away from making fun of her to her being funny about it? I don't know how else for her to stop it besides sitting on her hands when they put their heads down in class... Maybe wearing mittens or gloves to bed would deter the behavior. Good luck! C.

Hi S.!

It sounds like your daughter is figuring it all out for herself. Usually, it's the PARENT who wants the thumb-sucking to stop, but in this case it's your daughter who's feeling "embarrassed" about it. That's the perfect solution in itself. As soon as our kids become "aware" of their habits, they feel embarrassed and soon stop it all together.

Just let her accomplish it! it sounds like it won't be too much longer :o)


Talk to her dentist. They will have suggestions on what to do and they have differant appliances that they could put in her mouth to stop her from doing it.

Try putting some tape (masking tape or painters tape) on her finger. It won't taste as bad as the nail bitting polish stuff but will still be weird enough that she wont do it.

I went through the same thing with my daughter, who sucked her thumb until she was about 3, but I wanted her to stop WAY before she wanted to stop. I started telling her several things that began the decline of her thumbsucking, like her teeth were getting messed up; there are a lot of germies on her hand that could make her sick, people make fun, etc. It suonds like you have successfully gotten her to stop while she was awake, its just the sleeping thumbsucking thats a problem now. But, like your little one, as soon as she fell asleep, her thumb would pop right in her mouth. Like you, I did NOT want to put anything yucky or spicy on her thumb, so when it was time for her to go to sleep, I put a glove on the thumbsucking hand. Its non-toxic and will definitely be unsatisfying to put a fuzzy glove in her mouth. Being that she doesn't want to suck her thumb, you shouldn't have a problem with her taking it off while she's asleep. If it becomes a problem, you can do what I did initially, which was get a long tube sock and put it on her arm, all the way up to her shoulder. That way, even when she is asleep, it deters them from being able to take it off. Even if they get it part of the way off, it's long enough to still cover their hand. It didn't take very long at all for her to break the thumbsucking while sleeping habit, maybe 2 weeks, at most. If she still gets the glove off while she's asleep, you can sew a glove or a sock onto a long sleeved pajama shirt, or even just a regular long sleeved shirt. You could also safety pin it on, which is what we did initially before I sewed the glove on, but you run the risk of the safety pin coming undone, so its best to sew it on if possible. I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

My son didn't suck his thumb, but he did suck his mddle two fingers. He spontaneously stopped when he went into a retainer in second grade because "it wasn't the same!" Since your daughter really wants to quit, you might try some kind of physical reminder--like a thumb ring. I think they are worn just past the knuckle, i.e. not all the way down to the base. As soon as the thumb went into her mouth, she would feel the ring, which would remind her not to suck her thumb. Thumb rings are somewhat "in" now, so it could become a fashion statement for her, but you would need to be sure the ring was tight enough that there would be no chance it could come off and be swallowed.

Good morning!
Me and my daughter found us in the same situation. She wanted to quit her little habit, but found herself with her thumb in her mouth in the morning. We went to her dentist for a regular check-up and he gave us a great idea. Put socks on her hands before bed and mark the calendar every day that it is a success. The socks prevent the thumb from going in the mouth unconsciously. Together, set a "target" date that will represent the end of the sock wearing exercise and when it is reached they get a grand reward- (my daughter's reward was a build-a bear). At the end of the first full week of sock wearing.... a special treat or small reward will be her pay-off. We got a cute, decorative pair of socks and I tied them on around her wrist with a very cute ribbon. We made them cute and she didn't mind wearing them. We found ourselves at the target date before we knew it and she had broken the habit. About a month was all it took. It worked great! Or you can do things as minor as getting cute band-aids and wearing them on their thumbs, this way when they put their thumb in their mouth it feels weird. Good luck! C.

I highly recommend thumb guards (www.thumbguards.com). They come with colorful "bracelets" that get changed each day (your daughter can choose the color). It costs about $75, I think, but my daughter stopped sucking her thumb in about 2 weeks. They work by breaking the vacuum seal that is what children apparently enjoy about sucking the thub. My daughter liked the bracelets so much she continued to wear the thumb guards for another two weeks. They encourage the child to wear it 24 x 7, but I'd bet it would still work if you took it off during the school day.

Have you tried putting a bandaid on her thumb? They don't taste good and will be a reminder not to put her thumb in her mouth. It is less conspicuous than a ribbon. I used to do this when I wanted to stop biting my nails :)

Do you remember that old way people used to remind themselves to do or not do something before palm pilots and blackberries? They used to tie a little string or ribbon on their finger to jog their memory! If you tied a little ribbon around her thumb it would serve two purposes. One, it would be a visible and tactile reminder of her resolve to stop sucking her thumb, and two, she probably won’t want to suck her thumb with a ribbon tied on it.

If the ribbon is too out there and conspicuous of an item to have around your thumb at school and would draw too much attention, you can always take her to a jewelry store and find her a pretty silver thumb ring to wear instead. Something simple and smooth that doesn't have any stones that would catch on things. It would be a pre-emptive reward for her grown up decision and also serve the purpose to remind her not to put that thumb in her mouth.

A ring would be a little easier to explain away as "just a gift from mom" at school as well.

I didn't have time to read all the responses, so forgive me if this is a repeat. I have personal experience with thumbsucking...until I was 10! My orthodontist was the one who suggested I use a sock at night to cover up my hand. I tried it, and also mindfully put my arm under my pillow to sleep (sleeping on my tummy). This worked!!! Nothing else did. Good luck!

Just a thought....what about attaching a cute soft stuffed animal key chain to the belt loop of her pants or skirt or sweater zipper and when resting in class or any other time she is needing to self sooth she can rub or hold the stuffed animal with that same thumb.

Have you talked to your dentist? Ours suggested a bar that goes across the roof of our son's mouth when he gets older. Right now he's only 5 and usually only sucks his thumb when he is tired. Your daughter may be ready for something like this, but check with your dentist. There may be other treatments that are less drastic and won't make her throw up! Good luck.

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