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Thumb Sucking
16th Jul



Behavior Problem – Thumb Sucking


Thumb sucking is normal in infant but as child grows older, you’re starting to worry about her concerned about what her peer will say in a school.


How long does thumb sucking usually last?


Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes which cause them to put all finger into mouth, also during dentition , thumb sucking is soothing to babies . However most children stop thumb sucking in late infancy or sometimes during the toddler year between pages 2 and 4+.


Why do some children suck their thumbs?


A) Various theory had been suggested but most expect feel thumb sucking calms and comfort the child.


B) Thumb sucking is common in nuclear families or working parents


C) Some babies develop habit of thumb sucking when they are bore, tired or anxious.


D) Due to over ambitious parents, some children are under pressure to perform, so to realise pressure they do thumb.


When should I intervene?


When discourage parents from trying to stop a child’s sucking thumb before child reaches 3-years actually, thumb sucking isn’t usually concern until a child’s permanent teeth come in. This will lead to dental caries(contact).


What should I do?


A) Wait till child feel it’s a problem:-


I always feel addressing problem when he or she is ready is more likely to be successful than forcing HIM or her to be you child will feel to Quit the behaviour after being teased at school or play ground or colony.


B) Offer gentle reminders:-


If your child starts sucking thumb, request him to stop instead of criticizing or scolding him.


C) Don’t mention it:-


In some instance, paying no attention to such behaviour is good enough. If you feel your child uses thumb sucking as a way to get attention.


D) Use positive reinforcement:-


Praise child for not sucking instead of scolding when they do.


E) Use reward therapy:-


I always recommended reward therapy for helping kids to stop all wrong behaviour including thumb sucking. Buy a calendar, put in a drawing room. Write good if you don’t see the child sucking his or her thumb. Give target like 5-good /month. If your child succeed, you can offer reward, such as a toy or dinner at the child’s favourite restaurant. Next target will be 10 good month and so on………………….


F) Change the environment:-


1) If child is sucking on its thumb because of freedom, try getting the child attention with fun activity.


2) If a child is sucking its thumb when feeling insecure or needing comfort, focus on real problem and try to provide comfort.

In spite of all effort, your child is not able to control thumb sucking, contact paediatrician (detail).


Dr Ashish Agrawal, Child Specalist, expert in neurodevelopmental problem & child psychology.


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Dr Ashish Agrawal n Dr Gunjan Agrawal.                                                                     Add: Ishwar multispecality, behind sonwane medical, kailash (srinagar) nagar, Nanded.

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