A thumb sucking child can be a cause of a lot of worry for the parents. A child sucks his thumb to get a feeling of comfort and tranquility. Actually, a child did a lot of this activity before he was born, so it’s quite natural for him to take resort to it whenever he feels troubled or nervous. If a child gets up at night and feels afraid, he sucks his thumb to divert his attention and to go back to sleep.
Cause of concern for parents
Parents need to be worried if this habit continues for a long time even up to the age of 6 years, otherwise there is not much need of worry as the child leaves this habit gradually with the passage of time. The problem has a severe effect when the permanent teeth have just begin to appear near the age of 6 years. If the child continues this habit at this stage, the teeth can become deformed and braces may have to be used to set them right.
This makes your child look odd and conspicuous. Some children suck their thumb passively i.e. without any kind of aggression. This is not that harmful as aggressive and active sucking. Passive sucking is not a danger for the permanent teeth. The parents should observe their child closely and find ways to stop this activity if the thumbsucking is quite vigorous.
How to stop thumb sucking infants ?
Scolding or punishment is no solution for this problem because this problem is utterly automatic. The child does this in spite of himself and it is his way to gain security and peace. If you tie a bandage or any other material around his thumb, it will be worse than scolding the child. The child will not be able to cope with his nervousness.
On the other hand, find alternative methods to ensure calmness for your child. You can take the help of a lullaby toy or an extra soft blanket. The child will identify himself with the thing and his nervousness will gradually subside. An important thing here is to introduce this alternative at the exact time when your child feels perturbed and nervous. You should be able to recognize such moments with expertise.
If you find that your child sucks his thumb when he is tired, try to give him longer time to sleep. Similarly, if he sucks his thumb while watching his favorite program on the TV, don’t let his hands remain idle. Rather occupy his hands by giving him a soft or lullaby toy.
Not every child is same
Some children may require a bit of gentle scolding especially when they are in public. However, if after being scolded the child accepts the alternative and stops sucking his thumb, he should be praised generously. This will serve as a booster in your efforts.