11 answers

7 Year Old Won't Stop Sucking His Thumb!!

Hey ladies! We have been trying to get our lovable, snuggly, sweet 7 year old to stop sucking his thumb half heartedly for years now (which is why it hasn't worked) For 3 months now we have been "serious" since he has started 1st grade. he does not care if his friends tease him, he takes off the bandaids, tape, thumbguards, etc we put on his thumb. The bite bitter stuff only last about 30 minutes... I have been told by professionals that he would stop "when he was ready" and "when peer pressure gets to him" but that is not true. Unfortunately it is hampering his school performance. Whenever his thumb is on his mouth he "tunes out"... So, at school when he gets tired or bored, the thumb goes in and he starts day dreaming.... I would love help! We went to the orthodontist last week to get info on the device called a crib that would prevent him from sicking, but the ortho tried to talk us out of it. Does anyone have any experience with one of those? Does anyone have any other tricks I haven't tried?

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So What Happened?™

Well, he has stopped!! We took him to the orthodontist and he had a "talk" with my son explaining what device would be put in his mouth if he couldn't stop on his own. He also empowered my son to know that it was "his" choice. We "bribed" him with a trip to Dave and Busters if he stopped - all together these things combined to finally work. thank you to all who took the time to respond. Sometimes it is so nice to know you are no alone in this mothering thing!

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never dealt directly with a thumb sucker but don't believe that they'll quit when their ready. My niece is 24 years old and still sucks her thumb and has a piece of her baby blankie that she holds in her sucking hand. Her aunt is in her late 40's and still sucks her thumb. "GROSS" So if they don't ever WANT to quit or don't see anything wrong with it, they may never quit. My other niece sucked on two fingers and did get old enough (13 or so) to realize she didn't want to do it anymore. She used hot sauce and other "yucky" things on herself and it worked.

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One of my younger brothers had this problem. It worked for him as long as he stopped ripping it out which he did twice.

I had a task trying to get my daughter who is now 15 (and still sucking her thumb) to stop. However, I had her hand in a cast, put hot pepper on it, which slowed her down and I had to endure the cries, I had threaten her repeatedly, I must say she does not suck it as much, only when she is at home and when she goes to sleep, she tells me it comforts her. I know my nephew stopped after my sister threaten him she would put his thumb in dog poop, and he has not sucked his thumb since, I should have carried out my threat with the dog poop - who knows maybe it would have worked for my daughter. Good Luck, its a tough job!

never dealt directly with a thumb sucker but don't believe that they'll quit when their ready. My niece is 24 years old and still sucks her thumb and has a piece of her baby blankie that she holds in her sucking hand. Her aunt is in her late 40's and still sucks her thumb. "GROSS" So if they don't ever WANT to quit or don't see anything wrong with it, they may never quit. My other niece sucked on two fingers and did get old enough (13 or so) to realize she didn't want to do it anymore. She used hot sauce and other "yucky" things on herself and it worked.

what exactly is a crib?? When I was younger I had a thing put in my mouth with spikes so there was NO WAY I could put me thumb in my mouth. My dentist did it, I never had to see an orthodontist. If that's the same thing, the orthodontist isn't going to encourage it because it straightened out my teeth. It worked for me!! And saved my parents tons of money on braces!

My idea is also bribery. My daughter who is almost 6 is still sucking her thumb and we have tried bribery before but it did not work. All of a sudden she said she would stop sucking her thumb if she could get a TV in her room. I am against the TV but we said yes figuring she would not do it. She tried on her own for a week by wearing gloves and then gave up. I have found that my daughter is very visual so I made up a chart with 121 boxes. At the end of each day she gets a sticker to put in one of the boxes and once it is full she will get the TV. We have gone 26 days and she has been doing well. She is very excited to put a sticker on the chart and when we go to Target my daughter will look at the TV she wants. During the day I tell her she has 3 strikes and if I see her suck her thumb 3 times she will loose the chart and have to start over again. So far so good. At night I found princess tape in the first aid department (they also have cars) and we wrap it around her thumb and that stops it at night. I think that is the biggest thing is at night when they are alseep and do not realize but with the tape there she will not suck it. My friend told me about the crib but said that insurance will not cover it and it is expencive. Sounds like it is to be used at night which is the most troublesome. She also said it would take 4 to 6 months hench the chart that is for 121 days.
Good luck

OK, I never had a thumb sucker after 2-3 years of age...But I did have nail biters...and when I saw them I would ask : "That looks yummy, can I have some?" And they would be grossed out (thank God, because I wouldn't want to have followed through with my request)

So, if you ask your son "May I have some...it looks yummy!" He may offer it to you; and you'll have to decide if it's yummy or not. Perhaps you will react "oh, I'm too old for this..."
Make it a fun experience for him and you. Thumb sucking is a stress reducer.
How do you, as a perosn, relieve stress? These alternatives will be your suggestions to your son. Because thumb sucking does mess up the teeth. Ask your dentist for some advice, too.
Bottom line, he'll grow out of it. So will you.

You've probably tried it already, but just in case... have you tried to "bribe" him?
My 7 yr old daughter had developed the habit of chewing her nails... tried and tried to get her to stop. Offered her gum every time I caught her even... didn't work. Offered to paint them when they grew out, didn't work. Finally, she came to me with one of those school book order things (Scholastic) and wanted me to get her this "slime lab" thing in it. I told her, if she let her nails grow and didn't chew them, that I would order it for her. But she had to have nice nails when the order arrived or she wouldn't be allowed to have it. She agreed. Even made herself a big note and taped it to her mirror in her bedroom (" Do not chew nails or can't play with Slime Lab!"). She is a very self motivated child, so it may not work for your son, but it's an idea. Look for something he REALLY REALLY wants badly, and offer it to him, if he can stop sucking his thumb for ____ days. If you make the goal seem attainable, it might be enough for him to break the habit for good... (i.e, stop "for 10 days in a row"-- don't say stop forever). Even if he goes back to it afterwards, if you can get him to conquer the urge to suck for a little while, he might realize that HE does have the power to control his urge and thereby give him the confidence to quit.
Best wishes to you!

My daughter sucked her thumb so long I thought it would shrink and dissapear! We tried all that stuff out there but I guess what got to her (eventualy) was the funny smell the thumb got.
My daughter-in-law says her kindergarden teacher told her class their thumbs smelled like chicken poop Ugh!
Good luck.

My dad "paid" my sister and I to stop sucking our fingers. You have to be able to trust that he'll tell the truth, though, for when you aren't with him. My dad would give me a quarter for every day that I promised I didn't suck all day... Then after several weeks of giving me a quarter every day, he said he wasn't going to pay me for the rest of my life, and now if I did suck my finger I had to pay HIM a quarter! I didn't want to give up that money I'd worked so hard to earn so I stopped and never sucked again. It would help if there is something specific he is saving for and would need a certain amount of quarters (or dollars if you're willing/able!!) to earn in order to be able to go to the store and purchase what he earned.

Also, I read a fiction book called something like Thumbsucker and a teenager went to a therapist to get hypontised so he would stop sucking his thumb, but it manifested in other ways instead, like he turned to drugs and sex-- not that your little one will do that specifically (!!) but he may need to have some other ways to find comfort, so don't be surprised if he picks up some other habit, like for me it's rocking

My daughter sucks her thumb also, she just turned 4 and I have been trying everything as well to get her to stop. I looked up online the crib you mentioned and it sounds like a great idea. Here is a link with more info about it.
I can tell you that it will work. I sucked my thumb until I was about 10 or 11 at which time I had a bike accident and injured my mouth. I got a false tooth that had a roof plate, so I could not feel the roof of my mouth. The relaxing part of sucking your thumb is the feeling behind your front teeth on the roof of your mouth. If you can't feel that any more its no fun :< I still miss my thumb, or how relaxing it was, but never went back to it. I got over the habit.

Thanks for the idea of the crib, if she doesn't quite by the time her baby teeth start to come out, we are off to the dentist! Braces were not fun(for me or my mom's pocketbook) and I do not want my daughter to go through all the teasing I did in school (but still would not stop sucking my thumb)

Best of luck to you! Go for it!


Making a big deal out of this will only keep him focused on wanting to suck his thumb. If he's a great kid otherwise, please don't make him feel self conscience and miserable by hounding him.
I can tell you from my personal experience, thumb sucking does not cause all the things that people used to believe. I sucked my thumb until age 13...and have never needed braces (no oral deformities or even a single cavity) and even modeled professionally in my teen years (no facial deformities.) Ultimately, peer pressure from my friends curbed me from sucking my thumb in school and public and I only sucked it at night. I outgrew the night time thumb sucking naturally at age 13. During all those years however, my mother tried many of things mentioned already and all it did was make me feel like I was doing something evil and horrible.
If he's tuning out at school, I would consider that he isn't being challenged enough. If he was in an environment that was challenging and stimulating, he would be distracted enough to stay involved.
The "crib" sounds simply cruel. I can't imagine that wearing such a device for several months would improve his standing with his peers either.

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