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Advice on 6 Year Old Sucking Her Thumb!

Hi Moms - I need any advice or proven techniques that you all have used to stop thumb sucking. My 6 year old still sucks her thumb and we have tried verbally reminding her but it is not working. Can anyone help?

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Thanks everyone for all your advice. I am going to look into the thumb guard. However, I am also going to sit down and have a heart 2 heart with her about it and see if she says she is ready. I think I will try the reward system and see how that works first. She sucks her thumb at school also, but not as much as at home. She aslo bites her nails and twists her hair in knots! I know that she is she and that all these are security for her, but I feel like she needs to learn not to. Again - thanks for everyones help. You all are awesome!!!!

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I just overcame this issue with my 4 year old son!! We used the Thumb guard. You can order it from the company at www.medetal.com. Some Denist and One Step at a Time have it too. But straight from the company probably offers the best price. My son and I talked about it first, so he wanted to stop sucking his thumb. Then I went to the Chuck E Cheese website and printed a "No more Thumbs" behavior chart. It's a 2 week calendar. I bought some special stickers and let him put one on each morning. He mostly sucked at night so that's the only time I put it on. After 1 week I gave him a small prize and then after 2 we went to Chuck E Cheese....Then we started over. After 3 weeks he was done. But I think the norm is about 4 - 6 weeks. It worked for us. Good Luck! Oh the thumb guard comes with colored bands so he like being able to pick a oclor each night!

1 mom found this helpful

Would love to know myself, I have an older child that I took her blanket, favorite bunny away and she just stopped when those things went away. But my 6 year old can't seem to stop sucking hers also. Hope someone has a good idea because I need it also Thank you

My little girl sucked on one of her fingers until she was six years old. We discussed it & I told her that she was getting too old to do it any more. The problem was, her father & my mother (who both spend lots of time with her) thought it was "cute". But I had a heart-to-heart with her & explained that she was just too old to do that. Then, we got an empty jar & put it in her room. Any time I "caught" her NOT sucking on her finger when she normally would have been, I gave her a marble to put in her jar. When the jar was full, she got a reward - a trip to the Build a Bear workshop. I would definitely talk to her about it first & then use a rewards system to encoruage her to stop. I can't tell you how good it was for her self-esteem when she stopped. We talked about how proud we were of her for being able to stop a bad habit. Now, any time she gets frustrated about something & says she can't do it, we remind her of how she stopped sucking her finger & you can just see her confidence growing!!! Stick with it & give lots of positive reinforcement & you'll have a great building block for lots of other things!!! Good luck!

More Answers

I would recommend a Thumb Guard. It's a device that your child wears that makes it impossible for her to suck her thumb. She wouldn't want to wear it to school, but she could easily wear it at night while she's sleeping. I've included the link below.

You could also talk with your pediatric dentist. They are able to make appliances that make it impossible for a child to suck her thumb. The thumb guard is less expensive, though, so it might be a good first choice.

Good luck!

http://www.thumbguard.com/english/ourproduct.html

1 mom found this helpful

I just overcame this issue with my 4 year old son!! We used the Thumb guard. You can order it from the company at www.medetal.com. Some Denist and One Step at a Time have it too. But straight from the company probably offers the best price. My son and I talked about it first, so he wanted to stop sucking his thumb. Then I went to the Chuck E Cheese website and printed a "No more Thumbs" behavior chart. It's a 2 week calendar. I bought some special stickers and let him put one on each morning. He mostly sucked at night so that's the only time I put it on. After 1 week I gave him a small prize and then after 2 we went to Chuck E Cheese....Then we started over. After 3 weeks he was done. But I think the norm is about 4 - 6 weeks. It worked for us. Good Luck! Oh the thumb guard comes with colored bands so he like being able to pick a oclor each night!

1 mom found this helpful

I was a thumb sucker till I was 10 or so and one day I just stopped doing it. I do remember that everyone in my family, my brothers and my parents, use to try all differnt things to get me to quite, my brother use to threaten to stick my thumb in dog dodo. It just made me want to do it even more. If I were you, I would just let her continue to do it and let her quite on her own. That is the one thing that she has control over and the one thing that makes her feel safe. Dont take that away from her! She will quite when the time is right for her. My daughter is 3 and still has a binkie, and I will never take that away unless she tells me to, that is her security, this is a scary time for them, especialy if your daughter has just started school. Let it ride and see how she does. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Set a deadline.... maybe Christmas.... every time you think about it... tell her when Christmas comes you are going to stop sucking your thumb.... this will git the idea planted in her head. Don't be forceful... say it to her calmly.

Observe when she is sucking her thumb: is she tired, upset, bored, withdrawn? Then take steps to remedy the situation, give her alternatives without making a big deal over the thumb. Gently encourage her to verbalize to you how she feels. Getting to the "Why" is much more important than stopping the habit cold turkey. Confrontation and tears do more harm than good.

I worked with a family who bribed their daughter. She was seven and still sucking her thumb. She loved chocolate. She'll do anything for it so mom said no chocolate until she didn't suck her thumb for a whole week. That was enough to motivate this little girl. I am a firm believer in well placed thought out bribes. Don't bribe for everything, but they can be helpful for long term goals.

WOW, I have to tell you I am shocked at the number of responses to let her do it when she is ready instead of grill her to death till she stops. Love it, what a great group of moms. I sucked my thumb in the privacy of my own room until 16, yeah I know horrible right, but it soothed me and was a major stress reliever, I had braces and all that stuff too but I never did it in public. Anyhow, both of my boys suck thier thumbs and other than the fact that they only do it at home, it is a problem with germs and getting sick so for that I wish they would stop. My kids are 7 and 4 and my seven year old would never be caught dead doing it in front of his peers, he just does it at night to fall alseep, so you know what once you start doing sleep overs, you will find out that even the biggest toughest of kids who you think would never have a blankey, DO! Anyhow, just take solice in the fact that she does not bite her finger nails or twist her hair in knots till you have to cut them out. Kids of all ages have thier own vices just like us adults! Tell her that it will mess up her teeth and that you wish she would just concentrate on not doing it while watching TV or something like that. I told my eight year old that people could see him in the windows of the car and if they saw him sucking his thumb they would tell the whole school, he never does it in the car anymore! Maybe not right but so true! My husband goes nuts telling them to take it out and it creates alot of drama on the weekends, but during the week, I lay off!Good Luck

I sucked my thumb till I was eight years old. After a certain age - I think 4, I didn't do it in public, only at night. It helped me sleep. Then one night as I was settling to sleep, I put my thumb in my mouth and decided it was no longer for me. I was totally over it. I never developed problems with my teeth. I have perfectly straight teeth and never had braces. I think it's better to let children decide when they want to stop sucking their thumbs IMHO.

Is her dentist concerned? If not, don't stress yourself and you child out by forcing her to give it up. My oldest had a thumb habit (only at night) until she was 8. My youngest still has a finger habit (night, stressed, tired). Her dentist has said not to press the issue (even when I hinted that I would prefer it to stop). It's more a sanitary issue than anything at this time, so I constantly tell her to go wash her hands if she is going to put her fingers in her mouth.

I think giving the control is an empowering tool. There is so little they have say over at that age, allowing her to think about the habit and determine whether or not she needs to suck her thumb is good for her. Good luck!

A little tobasco sauce goes a long way! Or, something as equally unappealing to the taste buds...

Thumb sucking is an OK thing...I am older now & I sucked my thumb for quite some time when I was little...Yes I still remember that, it comforted me. My mom tried putting everything on my thumb & I would not like it, therefore I washed it off or suck it off anyway. I have perfectly straight teeth, so no problems there. When I began socializing more with older kids probably about 8 or 9, that is when I felt it was time to stop.Now I know that some of you reading this have already formed your opinion of me, but I turned out fine. We need to chill out & quit letting society dictate what is right & wrong. You as a mom need to decide whether it is more important what others think or what is more important how your child feels. I would hope that your child will win everytime. Remember, no matter what you do it will always be the right thing. Your daughter will come to the realization on her own as to when it is not socially acceptable and may be made fun of, but it makes it a learning step. No more, no less. And No she will not be scarred for life.

My daughter still sucks her thumb occationally at night and she is almost 8. She did have an orthodontic appliance in her mouth from age 4-5 and it helped a LOT! She went from sucking her thumb almost all the time to occationally at night. It also fixed her overbite so now it is looking like she may not need braces at all. I suggest it. The dentist and doctor both said if she is barely doing it and it is not effecting her teeth there is no harm in it. If your daughter's teeth are becoming effected or if she always has her thumb in her mouth I would suggest getting the appliance. It is worth it. Sometimes a bad habit is too hard to break by just reminding someone not to do it.

My little girl sucked on one of her fingers until she was six years old. We discussed it & I told her that she was getting too old to do it any more. The problem was, her father & my mother (who both spend lots of time with her) thought it was "cute". But I had a heart-to-heart with her & explained that she was just too old to do that. Then, we got an empty jar & put it in her room. Any time I "caught" her NOT sucking on her finger when she normally would have been, I gave her a marble to put in her jar. When the jar was full, she got a reward - a trip to the Build a Bear workshop. I would definitely talk to her about it first & then use a rewards system to encoruage her to stop. I can't tell you how good it was for her self-esteem when she stopped. We talked about how proud we were of her for being able to stop a bad habit. Now, any time she gets frustrated about something & says she can't do it, we remind her of how she stopped sucking her finger & you can just see her confidence growing!!! Stick with it & give lots of positive reinforcement & you'll have a great building block for lots of other things!!! Good luck!

Ahhh, a subject near and dear to my heart, since two of my three daughters were thumb suckers!

A visual reward system can worked well with my now 9 year old. A chart on the wall, with stickers for each day she didn't suck, and small rewards (from the dollar store, for instance) after X amount of days not sucking, with a larger reward (a mani/pedi) when it is clear she has completely stopped. But my daughter was also very interested in stopping, which went a long way towards her success.

With my now 13 year old, she managed to stop her daytime thumb sucking mostly through willpower, but nighttime was more challenging. She didn't really stop that until she was about 10 years old (the reality of needing braces finally kicked in, but by then it was too late!) and it was a combination of wanting to stop combined with putting a bandaid/tape on her thumb every night.

Two children with different temperaments and therefore different techniques. There is no tried and true method; you have to take your child's personality into consideration, as well as her own desire to stop. Good luck!

You have gotten alot of different views and it is very obvious those who never sucked their thumbs, their ideas are way out there (coming from a thumb sucker who did it in the womb until I was 12).

I had to have an appliance put in my mouth I couldn't take out. At first I still tried to suck it, during my sleep but it would make my thumb hurt so it would wake me up and I eventually stopped.

My daughter is also a thumb sucker and I tried real hard to fight her as an infant not to do it. We went and spoke to a dentist about it and have continued to talk to the dentist since she was two, he said if she hadn't quit by the age of 6, they would put in an appliance like I had a child.

I hope this helps. It's the hardest thing to quit, because you can't throw it away or get rid of it. I really wanted to quit as a kid, but did it in my sleep. Good luck!

My son used to do the same thing, I told him other kids were going to make fun of him if he did not stop, He eventually broke himself during the day, (still did at night for awhile out of habit) and then broke himself of that.
Give her time and something else (blanket of toy) for security. It is one of the hardest habits to break.

V. Perry

My daughter was 5 and still sucking her finger, so we had her wear one of her socks over her hand. She could only take it off to eat or play, otherwise she wore the sock. She hated it, but it reminded her about not sucking her finger because no one wants to have a sock in their mouth. It also kept us from having to say "get your finger out of your mouth" over and over again. :)

Good luck,
T.

I think it depends on the child because what works for one doesn't with another. There are products that make the thumb taste bad but are non-toxic. I think I have heard of someone using tobasco sauce. For me, sour would have probably stopped it and I don't remember when I did or why I did. At 6, try vanity, that the thumb sucking will damage her teeth and require braces. I know by that age it is an issue from a dental health standpoint.

You know, one thing I would do in addition to maybe googling if you don't get much of a response on here, I would figure out when she is doing it and try to deal with that. My mother bit her nails something awful when she was a kid but one summer she went to her aunt's farm and she was so busy she didn't have time to bite them. When she saw how pretty her nails were, she never bit them again.

Essentially she did it out of boredom, probably when she was anxious, and for comfort and out of habit. So maybe if you see the thumb go into her mouth, you know it is time for you to make sure she is doing something that is engaging enough to not need the thumb. Maybe if she does it while watching t.v. like I did, you ask her to grab a stuffed animal or something instead.

She will eventually stop because it is not behavior that will be acceptable to her peers but you do need to be concerned about the teeth so just don't give up on it.

I'm going to chime in and recommend the Thumb Guard that Heather and Esther below recommend. My daughter just finished using this a few weeks ago and she had complete success. It is not invasive and it is easy to use for you and your child. I would highly recommend it over the appliance that is installed in the mouth, at least as a first choice.

My daugher finished her 4 weeks of using the Thumb Guard right before her 5th birthday. She was ready to quit. She didn't ask for it but I could tell when I introduced it to her that she had a good attitude about it. Being ready I think makes alot of difference but I would think a 6 year old would be ready also.

I don't think putting something on her thumb will do the trick. From a former thumb sucker, she is going to have to want to stop. Either, she is going to get tired of, someone will make fun of her, or there will be some external force that will cause her to give it up. I quit because I wanted to wear nail polish and the polish would cause my lips to swell and blisters to form in my mouth. After about a month I had enough and quit. I had quit a couple of times before (my parents would offer me something I really wanted if I quit for a month) but I would start again. It will need to be something that she decides for herself all you can do is encourage her.

The orthodentist can insert a device in the roof the child's mouth.

Hi S....I remember my six year old best friend sucking her thumb when we were in first grade...after some kids pointed it out to her (I don't remember that they made fun of her, just asked her why she did it)she stopped sucking her thumb. It took our older boy cousin to get my younger brother to stop sucking his thumb just before kindergarten...sorry, no real advice here...just a little hope that she will probably stop sucking her thumb anytime now b/c of her age...kids are so aware of their peers at this age.

Would love to know myself, I have an older child that I took her blanket, favorite bunny away and she just stopped when those things went away. But my 6 year old can't seem to stop sucking hers also. Hope someone has a good idea because I need it also Thank you

My daughter stopped sucking her thumb around age 6 all on her own. We tried several things but nothing worked. One day she said (gleefully) to me that she hadn't sucked her thumb for 2 weeks and had stopped! So....maybe put a band aid on it at night, she might sense that it is there, then let her be for a while.....Making fun or scolding of her would be damaging so keep positive.

Note, she was the only child of 3 to suck her thumb and had the least problems orthodonticaly later, despite what everyone told me. Just use your 'gut feeling' about this. She'll be fine.

I sucked my thumb until I was 6. My parents wanted me to stop before I started school, so they bribed me with a bicycle and it worked.

I see you've received advice from every angle. My gut feeling is "pick your battles" and, unless you can find a simple solution that doesn't stress her and/or the family, this one isn't worth fighting over. Just my 2 cents.

Hi S., I have a friend who's son will not keep his hands out of his pants no matter what she does or puts on him and I have another friend who's daughter continuously sucks on her shirts making them stinky, wet, and dirty all the time. I think every child has their "vice" and I would absolutely prefer thumb sucking over either one of these others. She will stop when she's ready, in the meantime just let her be. Anything you say to her will only make her self esteem bad and may cause her to start hiding or acting out her frustrations in other ways. The more you hound her, the more stressed out she will become causing more and more thumb sucking!

One other suggestion, help her find other activities to do when she's bored. Paint her nails, teach her to sew, play with playdough, play jacks, let her sort beads or buttons... find something that she likes doing and that keeps her hands busy and you will automatically have less thumb sucking.

S., I know that there are pediatricians and pediadentists who suggest that an appliance be put in the child's mouth. I know that has worked for some. If your child sucks the thumb at night only, that can be a bit of a problem because he is not aware. Then the appliance may be the only solution. If it occurs frequently during the day, you might want to set up a plan to keep track of the times they are successful and chart it so the child can earn a reward. My niece had to put a glove on her daughters hand to help remind her. They selected a very fancy girly one. This worked well for them. However, I always go back to the fact that I have never known an adult who takes his pacifier to work or probably sucks his thumb there. But I guess anything is possible. Good Luck!
K. P., Director of Teddy Bear Junction Preschool in Plano

My mom used cayenne pepper - sprinkle it on the thumb (or other finger) and it WILL deter further usage - when we were little.

By this time if nothing has stopped her from sucking her thumb then she will have to be the one to stop. I was a very stubborn kid that sucked my thumb all the time, and then it was only when I was watching TV or when I was tired. My parents tried all the things mentioned below...non-toxic bad tasting nail polish that I would go to the bathroom and wash off, Tabasco sauce, tape, gloves, everything. You aren't going to be able to stand over your child to make sure they keep that glove or sock on. And these days most all kids need braces. So if you tell her that if she doesn't stop she will have to have braces, she made need them anyway later down the road.
Sucking her thumb is a security thing for her. The only way she will stop is when she is ready. For me, I was 11, and it took a little teasing from my friends to finally make me stop. I did get braces, but so did both of my brothers and they didn't even use a pacifier.
Just don't make a big deal about it, and try not to care what other parents think when you go out in public.

My almost 8 year old daughter still sucks her fingers. I sucked my thumb until I was 10. It comforted me and I know it comforts my daughter. She will stop when she is ready. Sleepovers, teasing, etc. will do it, not mom or dad. It will create battles that will exhaust the entire family. Be patient and let her know that some day she will want to stop, but that you will let her do it on her time. Braces these days are common to most children, so I wouldn't worry about them unless her permanent teeth are not growing in. My friend used an expander with a bar to stop her child from sucking his fingers b/c his 2 front teeth wouldn't grow in. They watched their son cry himself to sleep for about a week and then he was fine. You can go that route, but to me that's just something I couldn't bear to watch. Good luck!

I sucked my fingers and twisted my hair for a very long time. It helped me relieve stress. My family tried to shame me out of it. Which caused stress and a strong unwillingness to give up the habit. I didn't suck on my fingers when I was at school or away only at home. Where I had people pressuring me to stop. I was a very stubborn child. My suggestion would be to work with her to find other ways to calm herself. And then leave her alone. She'll give it up when she is ready.

I sucked my thumb until I was about your daughters age as did my brother. My mom never made a big deal out of it and we both quit on our own. Maybe you could just ignore it for a while and see what happens. It sounds like you have enough to worry about with school and more school!

I know a lot of people are responding with great advise but, I sucked my thumb until I was 12-13 and my dentist actually told my mother that sucking my thumb prevented me from having to get braces, my teeth were crowed and by sucking my thumb I allowed room for my adult teeth to grow in straight to this day people ask me if I wore braces as a child.
So each child is different my son sucks his thumb now at age 9 he never liked a pacifier or sucked his thumb as an infant or toddler he started at age 5. I remind him to stop when I see him doing it but I just don't make a big deal about it, I think it is society that makes big deal about it. My advise is let her be herself she will stop eventually. I do talk to my son about how germs are getting in his mouth by sucking his thumb, but I do not believe in things such as putting hot sauce or band aids on his thumb to make him stop.
Best of luck
H.

Lisa P. is right on. Unless her dentist is concerned, try to ignore it. I tell my daughter not to do it in front of me. The orthodontist can put a thumb guard in her mouth if it's affecting her teeth...

I sucked my thumb until I was 10 or 11. I just did it at night for comfort. I stopped myself finally by laying on my hands at night, and falling asleep without sucking it. I guess what I am trying to say from my experience, she may stop when she is ready.

I sucked my thumb until I was 8. The only thing that stopped me was an orthodontic appliance that was installed in the roof of my mouth, which prevented me from "sucking". My brother was also a thumb sucker, but he eventually stopped because it was embarrassing when he got caught thumb sucking at school and the other kids made fun of him.

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