Gentle Solution For Thumb Sucking Habit In Children

Gentle Solution For Thumb Sucking Habit In Children 5.00/5 (100.00%) 14 votes

Pacifiers and bottles: First, take a deep breath and realize that this habit may stop on its own. If you want to be proactive, often the easiest way to minimize sucking is simply to restrict access.

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Limit­ing the pacifier to the crib or bed is one way to cut down on its. If your child asks for it, tell her she needs to be in her bed when she uses it. Some toddlers will ask to go to their beds in order to have a little time with their pacifiers.

To cut down on bottle use, slowly scale back until you are giv­ing only one bottle per day. Make this the bottle that your child is most attached to — usually the one that she drinks from early in the morning or before bed at night. Let her know that she can have milk out of a bottle during that one time, but the rest of the day she must drink it out of a cup.

Some very strong-willed toddlers will find the pacifiers or bottles in the house and insist on using them. If your child does this, the clearest solution is to cut her off cold turkey and remove the pacifiers or bottles from the house.

A gender solution is to help your child choose to give up the habit. For instance, pacifier weaning often happens more quickly when the pacifier is trimmed. Cut 1 millimeter off the end of every pacifier in the house.

Some parents tell their child that the pacifiers are “getting old” or are “broken” or that “the pacifier bugs are eating them.” Every few days, trim another millimeter off, until your child chooses to give up the pacifier or only a stump is left.

An alternative to cutting the pacifiers is to ceremoniously give them away. This can also be done with bottles. Pick a baby that you know and suggest to your child that the baby needs the paci­fiers or bottles now.

You can wrap them up in a box and mail them or give them to the recipient family. Make sure those par­ents know that you are trying to wean your child off the pacifier or bottle and that they should throw away the old pacifiers or bottles once your child is out of sight.

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Thumb or fingers: Although you can get rid of (or trim) paci­fiers and bottles, you can’t get rid of (or trim) thumbs. Minimizing thumb or finger sucking is a bit more difficult because thumbs (or fingers, whichever is the case) are permanently attached to your child.

However, you can ask your toddler if she is ready to give up the thumb, and if she is, you can help by applying a strong-tasting nail polish to the nail.

The taste is a bitter reminder that the thumb is supposed to be out of the mouth. This technique works only if your child is a participant. If you try to surprise her and put on the polish without her agreeing to the plan, you may be equally surprised when she licks it off and even learns to like the taste.

Some of these strategies are better at certain ages. Younger toddlers tend to respond to removing or limiting access better than older toddlers do. By the time your child is three, she can clearly understand (and respond to) positive reinforcement.

You can reward the elimination of pacifier or thumb sucking by using a star chart or some visual reminder. But make sure you simply ignore the thumb or pacifier sucking when your child chooses to do it.

Remember that both positive and negative reinforcement can encourage a behavior. If you chastise your child for thumb or pacifier sucking, she will recognize that you want her to stop the behavior, and she may continue it just to spite you. This is a nor­mal dynamic. Often the best way to minimize a behavior is to ignore it.

Once your child is four, your desire to stop the behavior will have increased significantly. Don’t let your child know this, though. The more you care, often the less likely your child will be to comply with what you want. Try to make your child a partici­pant in the process.

Explain why it is important to stop the behav­ior and ask her what techniques she thinks will work. Let her choose the positive reinforcer, but try your best not to offer a material reward. It is always better to reward with an activity than with a toy.