18 answers

Thumb Sucking - Greenwood,AR

My daughter is going on 5 years old and my husband and I have tried everything it feels like to get her to stop sucking her thumb. We have put hot sauce on it, NO BITE stuff, wrapped it up with bandages, slapped her hand, yelled at her, put her in time out, everything that I can think of. HELP! We are willing to try anything!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi J.! My oldest daughter was a thumb-sucker and we ordered the thumb guard system when she was five. She knew it was a habit and she didn't even realize she was doing it. She didn't want someone to see her doing it once she started kindergarten, so she was very determined to quit. She wore them all the time for about a month. She is seven now and has never looked back. She was so proud of herself for giving something up that she did so often for the first five years of her live. This worked for us only because she made the decision to quit, otherwise I don't believe anything would have been effective. Hope this helps...good luck!!

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Try distracting her. Get her to do things that require both hands, so she can't suck the thumb. Most therapists will say that she sucks her thumb for comfort. At her age she can't really understand or explain to you why she needs that comfort. If you make a big deal about it she will get nervous or upset because you are trying to take her comfort away and it will only make things worse. If distracting doesn't work, seek help in the form of a child counselor.

I was a thumb sucker. My parents tried everything to get me to stop. Among other things, I had hot sauce on the thumb and an appliance with prongs that the dentist put in to make it hurt to suck it, etc. None of those things worked. I had a permanent hole in my thumb where it rested on my bottom teeth. I eventually stopped on my own in about third or fourth grade. I was never a day time sucker, I would suck it in my sleep. To this day I sometimes wake up sucking (just sucking - not on my thumb). If she is sucking during the day, just continue to remind her to remove it constantly. You may ask your dentist for suggestions, but she will likely grow out of it.


I have three thumb-suckers. Well, only one is still sucking - so I've successfully helped to break the habit twice. My first daughter was easy- we taped her thumb with medical tape (after we realized that she was sliding the band-aids off and then sliding them back on to fool us). She quit before kindergarten and - other than a few rough bedtimes - it was not that big a deal. Then my second one!! Ultimately, we used the medical tape to help her during the day. Day time was not that hard - she wanted to quit (the dentist had shown her some messed up teeth and there was some peer pressure). Night time was another story. What finally worked was long socks (we used soccer socks) that we safety pinned to the sleeves of her PJs. If we didn't do that, she would unconsciously slide the sock off in the night to get to the thumb. She was 8 before we were able to defeat the night time habit - but I think that was my fault. I'm confident that if you are consistent and diligent, the habit can be broken in a couple of weeks. But, be patient. It is a habit and sometimes they don't even realize that they're doing it. We are in the process of getting my last one (he's 5) to stop and he will have his thumb in his mouth when he's in the car and not even realize that he put it there. That's why something like medical tape during the day works- as soon as it's in their mouth, they realize what they've done.

It will happen. Just stick with it and make sure that you get her to agree that she wants to stop. It's a hard thing to do and if she's not committed to it, you're fighting a losing battle.

I sounds like you have tried everything you can at home. As a dentist I would now recommend taking her to the dentist (probably a pediatric one) and asking about a thumbsucking appliance.

I SO feel your pain!! My 7-yr-old is still fighting this habit. He quit when he was five, then started back up again after a bad experience with a day surgery. That was over a year ago, he's just now trying to quit during the day.
When he quit at 5yrs, we found something that he REALLY wanted, then for every day that he didn't suck his thumb, we paid him a certain amount. After about 4 weeks, he had enough money to go buy his "dream" item, and he was so excited. Couldn't believe that it worked, but it hasn't worked this time - this time the hot sauce did the trick. He still sucks at night, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. His teeth are a little messed up, I've already warned him that he will probably have to wear braces.
I wish you luck. Mine was sucking his thumb any time that his hands weren't busy, so do try to keep her busy as much as you can. Maybe get some special crayons/markers/stickers and keep her as busy as you can!!

You, of course, know your child better than anybody.

Why are you trying to get her to stop sucking her thumb?
Why is she still sucking her thumb? Is it for comfort or is it for attention?

Either way, I would sit her down and explain to her why she needs to stop sucking her thumb. Come up with a consistent disciplinary action for doing so - Losing the tv for that day, losing candy for the day, not getting a sticker that day, ETC. , . . They key is to be consistent. And explain to her what the action will be and follow through with it. If it doesn't work right away, well, keep it up. She is old enough to remember how you handle this situation, so it is important not to get overly frustrated with her and always make sure she knows you love her, but she cannot suck her thumb. Also try using a reward system for not sucking her thumb and create a calendar - Put a sticker on each day that she doesn't suck her thumb - once you have a few days filled up, have a fun family outing in celebration. Let her know that you are proud of her for having the courage and strength to quit. Good Luck :)

Is there an older child, babysitter, adult, etc. that your child really looks up to? If so, conspire with them to tell your child how awful thumbsucking is and that only babies suck their thumbs and so on. I have found that when my my daughter won't listen to me, she will take advice from someone else that she admires. Best wishes.

My third child was a thumb sucker. Until she was ready to quit, all of our efforts did not work. So, we started encouraging her to realize that she needed to quit and stopped focusing on things to make her quit. Once she was ready, she was on board and although it was hard she was successful. This is a habit that kids develop and sometimes they don't even realize that they are doing it. What worked for us were socks over the hands at night. We called the socks her friends and explained that they were helpers for her. We also made sure that we praised her alot for her efforts. We encouraged her and talked about it often, we listened to her and then tried to help her. I think one reason this worked is that she was on board with it and we were helping her not us MAKING her quit.

Good luck!

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