Handling Thumbsucking Problem in Kids

Thumb sucking is a very common habit developed in the kids during their early years of childhood. Its one of the natural instinctive reflex action of new born babies. A parent generally start noticing this habit in their babies in the first 3 months. Although initially this gesture helps to provide comfort to the child and makes them asleep but it is also one of they way of communicating their need of hunger to their mothers. Generally this gestures of thumb sucking become a regular stubborn habit in the kids until they reach  the preschool age group of 2-3 yrs.However, as they grow and reach 4-5 years,they generally out grow this habit too.

There are various reasons which are responsible for thumb sucking. They develop this habit due to:

  • Stress
  • Boredom
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Indicate they are hungry
  • Shyness/lack of confidence
  • Feeling of loneliness
  • Sense of insecurity

Although thumb sucking is termed as natural behavior and is harmless, however when kids become reluctant and do not give up this habit till 5-6yrs, it becomes a cause of concern for the parents. In such cases, in order to solve the problem of thumb sucking , parents need to first understand the reasons for their kids thumb sucking and try to solve them first. Some of the methods which parents can adopt to discourage thumb sucking are:

  • Reward system
  • Make them busy in certain activities
  • Make them play with kids who do not practice thumb sucking
  • Praise them for not sucking their thumb
  • Increase their confidence level
  • Remove boredom-involve them in household activities
  • Encourage them to do their small tasks independently
  • Praise them ,love them
  • Distract them ,when they suck

Sucking may be a pleasure tool for kids in early years but when continued for longer years (5yrs) ,it can become a concern:

  • Various dental problems.
  • Speech problem
  • Stomach infections
  • Thumbnail infection
  • Embarrassment
  • Develop low self esteem
  • Increased chances of pin worm

However,not all thumbsucking problem causes  equal harm,as it depends on the intensity,frequency and duration period of sucking but this habit should be discouraged by the parents from the early age so that children do not develop it into a reluctant habit later.



Raka Raghuvanshi