Conditions

Thumbsucking

Thumb sucking

Thumbsucking is such a common form of behaviour in young children that you might not think of it as a problem – and for lots of kids it isn’t. But if it’s particularly compulsive, or if as they grow older they just won’t stop, then it can be a cause for concern.

Babies can start sucking their thumbs while they are still in the womb, and most newborns will do it within the first few weeks of life. Thumbsucking is a form of stress relief: it comforts children when they are tired or anxious by helping the brain produce certain ‘satisfaction’ endorphins. There are lots of stories about the adverse effects of thumbsucking, but most of them are untrue. Thumbsucking won’t cause buck teeth in adulthood, since children start to lose their milk teeth at around six years anyway, and it’s unlikely that the thumb itself will be damaged or deformed, though the skin can become sore for a while. You can of course give babies a dummy to suck during their first year, which quietens them when they feel anxious or insecure, and which will go some way to stopping them from developing the thumbsucking habit.

Most kids will naturally stop sucking their thumbs by the time they are two or three, but a significant number don’t. This is the point at which it can become more of an issue. Since you can’t take kids’ thumbs away from them, how do you stop them sucking once they get older?

Avoid threats or telling them off, which tend not to be effective. Instead, just gently ask them not to do it, and offer little rewards, praise and reassurance as their behaviour changes. For some kids it’ll be peer pressure which does the trick once they start spending more time with other kids at nursery or school. Either way, positive reinforcement of the behaviour you want should gradually wean them out of the habit.

For more information, see:
Thumb Guard UK

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Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hi my son is 11 years old and still sucks his thumb.what is the best way to get him to stop.





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I have a 10 month old who constantly sucks her thumb she has been doing it from when she was 3 months. Her teeth are beginning to pert rude forward. Please tell me what the best thing to try to stop this habbit





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When I was little my uncle told me that, that if I didn't stop sucking my thumb my teeth would form around the shape of my thumb. I actually liked this idea because I thought it would make my habit even more comfortable than it was so I purposely put more pressure on my teeth until it became my habit. Now, as an adult, I still suck my thumb and, yes, my teeth are, as my uncle warned, shaped in an almost perfect arc around my thumb and angled to let my thumb fit in (bucked out a lot), even with my mouth almost totally closed. I actually prefer it that way. :)





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Thumb guards don't work if your child doesn't want to stop. My daughters are 4 and 6 one finger sucker, one thumb sucker, we have tried reward charts which worked and then she started again, plasters and other physical preventions, positive encouragement all the way to full on bribes.... My opinion is now that no 1 solution can help. my elder daughters friends suck their thumbs but not as much, but she now thinks its ok. she has also found she can take the thumb guard off if she wants. I'm at the end of trying everything. Ideas (new ones) always welcomed





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We used Kizzo Gloves. Our son stopped sucking his thumb after 3 weeks. It worked for us http://kizzo.eu/en_US/index





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I sucked my thumb until I was around 14, and as a result, I know have a large gap between my top and bottom teeth when my jaw is clenched. My canines are quite long, and I look kind of like a vampire. When I'm talking, you can't see my top 4 middle teeth, and it has resulted in many people asking me where my front teeth are, which has completely destroyed my self confidence. I never smile with my mouth open, and I hate talking to strangers, because I know they're wondering what's wrong with my mouth. I'm terrified of dentists, and even if I wasn't, I wouldn't be able to afford to get them straightened, only earning minimum wage. I urge all parents to ensure that their children stop sucking their thumbs as soon as their milk teeth fall out.





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We used Thumbsies and they worked for us after 3 weeks. There are lots of materials to choose from and really comfortable to wear. www.thumbsie.co.uk





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i have a curve in my top row of teeth due to thumb sucking,will braces help?





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My little boy sucked his thumb constantly from 12 months. By the age of 4 our dentist told us he really needed to stop. We tried EVERYTHING without success and then came across Dr Thumb (drthumb.co.uk). It’s a type of silicone guard that goes over the thumb and claims to ‘break the vacuum’ so children cannot get that sucking feeling. It was a bit pricey at £25 but it worked for us in just over 2 weeks so worth every penny!





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My 5 year old daughter stopped using a custom made thumb guard after just 3 weeks. www.facebook.com/Jo.Thumbsie





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