Getting a 4 Year Old to Stop Sucking Thumb

Updated on September 17, 2008
L.J. asks from Vancouver, WA
4 answers

My 4 1/2 year old has been sucking his thumb since he was a few months old. He only EVER used to do it when he slept. We NEVER saw him suck his thumb during the day, ever. In January we went to the dentist and he noticed that he sucked his thumb and encouraged us to work on getting him to stop. The only problem was we were never around when he sucked, he just did it in bed. I tried the nail biter polish but he just sucked the bad taste off so I quit putting it on his thumb now. Now that it's out in the open and he knows that we know he sucks it, I catch him sucking his thumb while he watches a movie now. We always make him take it out or we turn the movie off. We were at the dentist again yesterday and it came up again. He suggested offering a reward for going 2 days w/o sucking his thumb. Then a bigger reward for a week and so on. Only problem is, how do I get him to stop sucking his thumb while he sleeps when we can't moniter him? I know there is a bridge that can be put into a child's mouth once the permanent teeth start to come in but he recommends trying to get the child to stop on his/her own first. What worked for you??? Thanks.

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answers from Anchorage on

You could offer him real knowledge of bacteria and the possibilities of what could happen to his teeth. Maybe show him a couple of tame examples from a book or the internet. Find a kids book that talks about it. Plus, have him pick out a replacement soother- stuffed animal, blanket or a toy that he can chew that won't hurt him. Maybe even soft music to play in his room at night. A fun lamp that has a night light. Ask him what would help? "If you could have something that would remind you that you're big enough not to suck your thumb or You will always be mama's baby...I'm not sure but you will know your child." Good luck and best wishes.



answers from Boise on

THey have plastic thumb guards that have wrist bands so the child can't take them off and they are then too big to suck on comfortably.



answers from Medford on

I don't know if this crosses any lines, but Tabasco sauce might help. You don't want him getting it in his eye though, when he is sleeping. Other food sources might help too, like lemon juice or something that won't burn his eye, or stink, but will give his tongue a start when he pops his thumb in his mouth while sleeping. Then, he can pull it out for his reward.



answers from Seattle on

My baby is only 2 1/2 months but I know at my walmart they have a nail polish in the pharmacy that is like hot nail ploish to help with thumb sucking. Hope that helps.

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