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Does Your Child Have a Thumb-Sucking Habit? Here’s How to Break It!

February 15, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drkics @ 5:09 pm

As a parent, it’s normal to be concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking habit. While it’s completely natural for babies and toddlers, it can lead to complications if it continues after a certain age. Not only can it lead to issues with proper development, but it can mess with your child’s dental alignment. If you want to reduce the need for orthodontic intervention down the line, you should help them kick this habit to the curb as soon as possible. Read on to learn a few techniques that can help get your child’s oral health and self-esteem back on the right track!

Use Positive Reinforcement

It’s normal to want to quickly correct your child whenever you catch them with their thumb in their mouth. However, you should avoid punishing them when they fail to meet your expectations. Instead, try using positive reinforcement! It’s far more effective than you think.

Start by paying attention to when your child successfully resists sucking their thumb. If they face something that makes them anxious without giving into the habit, praise them! You can either give them a physical reward or lots of words of encouragement. This will associate positive feelings with breaking the habit, empowering them to fully quit.

Track Their Progress

Have you considered keeping a chart to track your child’s progress? You can use colorful stickers to show their accomplishments, further motivating them to quit their thumb-sucking habit for good. Allow your child to place the sticker on the chart every time they reach a small measurable goal. They’ll be excited to track their progress in such a fun way!

Introduce Healthier Coping Mechanisms

Children typically suck their thumbs for a sense of comfort that was once connected to a biological need being fulfilled. However, it’s time to outgrow the habit once your little one stops bottle feeding. For an easier transition, you may want to provide another healthy coping mechanism to comfort your child during times of stress or boredom. You can get their hands and brains busy with artistic activities, puzzles, or games.

Show the Impact of Thumb-Sucking

If your child is nearing the age of four or five, they may be able to better understand the negative impact of thumb-sucking. You can show your child the gap developing between their upper lip and lower teeth in the mirror, explaining why it’s occurring. In addition, you can show them an age-appropriate informational video on the topic to improve their understanding. Not only will this technique give your child a sense of ownership over their teeth, but it will boost their confidence as they succeed in breaking the habit.

About the Practice

At Westgate Dental Care, we’re committed to providing exceptional dentistry to patients of all ages. Our dental team has an incredibly high level of combined expertise and shares a passion for delivering the best care possible. If your child is struggling to break their thumb-sucking habit, don’t hesitate to let us know. We can get your little one’s smile back on the right track in no time! You can reach us via our website or call (847) 577-7171.