Thumb Sucking~ Am I Too Mean?

Updated on March 31, 2009
L.B. asks from Cumming, GA
14 answers

My almost 3 year sucks his thumb ALL THE TIME!! It makes me crazy! There is one caviot. He has to have his stuffed dog to suck his thumb... would it me horrible and mean if the dog "got lost"? I don't want to cause damage but even the dentist said he was starting to damage his soft palate

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So What Happened?

Thanks for you help everyone! I hope that we'll be able to remedy this sitution soon. One thing we're going to try this week is that doggy has to stay in his bed. Doggy hasn't been allowed to leave the house for quite some time so now I think I'm going to restrict him a little more. I notice him the most with dog and thumb "chillin" watching TV.
We'll see how that works out.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

L.,
My daughter finally stopped, even after she had a metal spike thing attached to the back of her teeth she still did not stop sucking her thumb until she was around 10 and the other girls at camp thought she should.
Sorry,
Good Luck

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E.R.

answers from Dallas on

No - I wouldn't punish him by getting rid of something he loves...I would put a thumbguard on him! The thumbguard worked for us!

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M.W.

answers from Dallas on

Hi L.,

I had a similar situation with a behavior that drove me crazy! My daughter would role her eyes at me and though it wasn't medically impairing her, it was pushing me beyond my patience. The more I scolded her/punished her for it, the more she would stubbornly do it. Finally, I had to just "ignore" the behavior. She still did it for a good while afterward, but when she saw that I was not responding anymore, she finally quite. Thank God! I hated that behavior.

That being said, I feel that getting rid of the dog could increase the behavior. The dog may just be part of the comfort he needs while sucking his thumb and by removing it, he'll likely replace it with something else. As mentioned by someone else, I would begin by trying to set limits with him. This is a difficult choice and you're the only one that will know what the right thing to do for your child is. I wish you the best of luck.

M.

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K.S.

answers from Dallas on

What a horrible reason to get rid of a family pet! I'm appalled.

I'm 52 and I still remember my mother taking me to the vet so he could put my cat to sleep when I was 5 or 6. His crime was using the neighbor's sandbox for a litter box. Then there was the cat my dad took to "live on a farm" when I was 8. Then the dog that disappeared to live on a farm when I was 16, because my dad did not want to take him with us to Kentucky from Pennsylvania.

Maybe my parents grew up in a different time and era or maybe they were from some other universe. As an adult, our family pets are family members and not so disposable.

Do some research on the internet about thumbsucking. Dentists love to forecast dire consequences from thumb sucking. It helps set the stage for all that orthodontia a few years later. Everyone's got to have perfect teeth these days. Used to be that healthy was good enough.

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M.G.

answers from Dallas on

L.,

Please do NOT take Kim S's advice! I cannot believe she suggested to give your son a swat if he sucks his thumb! How awful!

Anyway, I understand your concern about possible dental issues. I am truly torn. Maybe you should discuss this with a professional therapit (or a child psychologist) who won't tell you to hit your kid! Good luck!

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D.W.

answers from Dallas on

I think you're on the right track, restricting the dog to bed. And after a few weeks of that, "lose" the dog or say you left it at so and so, a place you don't go very often. When I weaned my 3 yr. old from his pacifier, he only had it at night, and then one night I actually did lose it. And when I explained it to him, he just said Oh. Well I did find it again, but I didn't tell him. And the next time he asked for it, I told him it was lost, and this went on for a week or 2. And he eventually forgot about it. And then I threw the paci away.

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R.M.

answers from Dallas on

I do not have anything to add from previous post, other than to put in my vote for NOT taking the dog away.

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L.S.

answers from Dallas on

I don't think it's mean, but obviously I'm in the minority - which I normally am so that's okay :) I took my son's paci away at 9 months and people (mainly MIL/FIL) thought that was the cruelest thing ever (I also took his bottle away cold turkey at 14 months). I didn't want a toddler with a paci or bottle and he was fine without them. He was upset for a few days but not very much (with the bottle he wasn't upset AT ALL). It might surprise you that he barely misses it for a day or two then gets over it. And if not you can "find" the puppy again if he's totally hysterical over it. I just think most kids are resilient enough to get over stuff like that but obviously others feel differently which is okay too. Only YOU know your child best and only YOU can make this decision. Don't feel guilty either way, just decide what you feel is best for him and go with that decision without feeling guilt!

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C.T.

answers from Dallas on

How would you feel if your most loved possession was gone? Yes, I think it would be incredibly cruel do do such a terrible thing to a child. The bigger the issue you make over your child sucking his thumb, the more he is going to do it. What is it with a child sucking his or her thumb these days? I think dentists are going overboard a bit with the thumb sucking issue. I didn't even take my son to the dentist until he was four and he has had nothing but positive reports. I sucked my thumb until age 5 with no problems what so ever and I stopped when I wanted, not because my mom nagged me about it constantly or put some substance on my thumb to discourage sucking. I never even had braces and have very straight teeth. Just leave it alone for now and please don't break your child's heart by taking away his comfort object.

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K.D.

answers from Dallas on

I don't understand why so many people want to take things away from children. They will get that enough in life without the center of their universe taking things from them! Let go, be happy, and let them be little just this short time!

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S.S.

answers from Dallas on

It's his security if you take it away before he is ready he could become a very nervouse person. 3 is still young, I was 5 when I quite sucking my thumb and my parents tried different things, ultimatley the doctors told them that when I was ready I would let go. If he had a security blanket would you take it away. Most kids have a security object, blanket, stuffed animal, sucking your thumb. Hope all is well!!

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C.J.

answers from Dallas on

Yes you can get ride of "dog", but he will
be heart broken. It is funny that people think it is so cute when a baby sucks his/her thumb, but not so much when a toddler does it. He will stop when he is ready. I sucked my thumb until I was 5 and had no problems at all. I would take him to another dentist for a second opinion. If he/she says it is damaging then try to slowly wean him off of sucking it. I have a feeling even if "dog" becomes lost he will still suck his thumb. Sit down with him and explain to him that he can only had "dog" at night and nap time. This is the only time he can suck his thumb. Tell him how much of a big boy he is becoming and it is time to stop sucking his thumb all day long. Not sure if it will work or not, but worth a try. I know from my own kids the more I seem to get upset about a certain behavior they more they want to do it. Try not to let it get to you (sometime easier said than done). Best of luck.

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K.S.

answers from Dallas on

Wrap his thumb 24/7 with J&J waterproof white tape. Let him know that if he takes the tape off he will get a swat. Don't let him know this, but if he keeps the tape on until lunch, give him a sucker after lunch, and the same in the evening before you brush his teeth...this may go on 2 weeks or 2 months. I wouldn't do anything about the dog; just let him have it.

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J.S.

answers from Houston on

No, I don't think you're being mean. He's damaging his mouth. It's up to you as his mommy to show him how to treat his body. Yes, he will be upset, but that's a given. But that's our duty as parents to help guide them.

My brother sucked his thumb for years...until he was 8 or 9, I think. He had to have 2 sets of braces for many years. Do you want your child to go through that? I'm not at all trying to be mean, but that's our duty as parents. We have to make those hard choices for them right now. Good luck!