Thumb sucking is something you would typically see an infant do because they have a natural reflex to do so. This behavior, however, can become a bad habit as infants grow into toddlers and can still be an issue through adulthood. Getting rid of thumb sucking can be difficult, but with a little bit of consistency and kindness, it can be accomplished. Read on to learn more about this habit and how to stop it.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking



Using a reward system to stop thumb sucking can be a highly effective way to get your child to stop this habit. Create a chart and let your child earn stickers for each day they go without sucking their thumb. Allow them to choose a reward that they can receive for collecting a certain amount of stickers by the end of the week or month. This gives them a visual encouragement to remind them how well they are doing as well as a goal for stopping the habit.


Allow them to do it in privacy

Sometimes you have to take smaller steps to get your child stop sucking their thumb. One way to achieve this is to allow them to do it in the privacy of their own room. Getting them to stop sucking their thumb in public can be the first goal you set and soon your child will stop altogether.


Bad tastes

Have you been recommended putting a bad tasting liquid on the thumb? Every time your child puts their thumb in their mouth, they will get the foul taste and eventually stop sucking their thumb because of it.


Use a gentle voice

Yelling and screaming at your child when they place their thumb in their mouth should be avoided. This type of negative reaction to their thumb sucking will often cause the habit to worsen. Yelling and screaming at your child will make them nervous, which is often the reason they are sucking their thumb in the first place.


Distract them

How to stop thumb sucking? Simply give them something else to do. One way to stop this habit is to distract your child with another activity when they go to put their thumb in their mouth. Trying having them read a book, color a book, or build with blocks, which will keep their hands busy and their thumb out of their mouth.


Use a substitute

While you may not like the idea of your child still sucking on a pacifier, this can be a great alternative to thumb sucking. If you want to wean your child off of sucking their thumb, you might want to consider giving them something else to suck on instead.


Other alternatives

If you feel your child is too old for their pacifier, then consider chewelry. This type of jewelry can be chewed on and help your child stop sucking their thumb.


Know when they are more likely to suck

You may notice your child will often suck their thumb during certain activities or times of the day, such as watching television or while they are sleeping. Recognizing when your child is more likely to thumb suck can help you create a plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the habit during these times. When watching television, turn off the TV when your child puts their thumb in their mouth. If your child often sleeps with their thumb in their mouth, consider covering up their hands with mittens or gloves.


Cover their hands

One way to stop thumb sucking is to make it more difficult for them to do it. How to stop thumb sucking can be done by using covers on their hands. A plastic thumb cover, cloth thumb, ace bandage, or other specially designed products can be used to cover the thumb. This makes it more difficult for them to stick their fingers in the mouths and will remind them not to suck on their thumb.


Talk to them

Sometimes all you need to do is to discuss the issues with your child. Tell them why they shouldn't continue with the habit and talk about any anxiety they may have that leads them to suck on their thumb. Let your child know the benefits of stopping the behavior as well as the consequences if they continue.


Be consistent

The thumb sucking will not stop overnight, but with consistency, it can be quickly stopped. Whatever methods you decide to use to stop the thumb sucking, you want to stay consistent with it.


Have patience

Trying to stop this habit can be a difficult process and can be stressful for both you and your child. It is important that you remain calm and patient with your child as you try out different techniques to get them to stop thumb sucking. Give them kind reminders to keep their thumb out of their mouth and don't forget to give them plenty of praise when they go the day without sucking.

When Should You Intervene?

Often, thumb sucking is something that you shouldn't be concerned about with younger children. It isn't until their adult or permanent teeth come in that thumb sucking is more of a problem. The roof of the mouth can be affected as well as how the teeth grow in at this time. How to stop thumb sucking should be a concern and addressed if the child vigorously sucks on the thumb, which even with babies, can cause a number of dental and oral complications.

Can the Dentist Help?

If nothing seems to be helping with your child's thumb sucking, consider setting an appointment with the dentist. They will be able to identify any issues your child might have obtained from sucking on their thumb as well as inform them of why they should stop this behavior. The dentist will also be able to recommend addition techniques that can help them stop the behavior.


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