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How to Stop Kids from Sucking on Their Fingers and Thumbs

Updated on January 17, 2016

Natural habit from the day were born

Thoughts from a Mommy of five

I think the first thing we must learn about when searching for answers on how to stop our children from sucking their fingers and thumbs is to understand "why" children do this. Things that I have noticed over the years that have been happening when I caught my kids doing this annoying bad habit are:

  • Boredom- I noticed that when they were simply doing nothing or watching television they would stick a thumb or a finger in their mouth.
  • Stress/Anxiety- If there was something happening around the house out of the norm, arguments, another child getting into trouble
  • Trouble falling asleep- this is probably when it's the most hard to stop because we aren't always around at this time
  • Insecurity- when they don't feel good or when they want something from you or when they are afraid of something new

So, in my theory, if we can head off these things before fingers hit the mouth, then we will be able to perhaps "teach" them new ways of handling these situations.

  • Boredom- Suggest a new game,spend time with them, anything to get their minds active.
  • Stress/Anxiety- Never argue in front of your children. Never discipline another child in front of a sibling. Let them no it's okay to cry or vent their feelings.
  • Trouble falling asleep- Set a good bedtime routine. Rather it's bath time, reading them a story or letting them wear their favorite pajamas. Some suggest introducing a "blanky" or a favorite blanket, I feel this only creates another annoying habit though
  • Security- Teach them good self esteem. Teach them that change is good not always bad or scary. Learn patience with them yourself so that they don't feel insecure about coming to you with things that they are having trouble with

There's nothing to worry about really

There's really nothing to worry about until your child reaches the age of six years old, before then there is really no dangers in this annoying bad habit except for it being annoying to you. It's natural as a baby to do this as a calming effect.

Most children stop this on their own between the ages of two- four. After they reach six years old , then you should start worrying, but if you have practiced the above suggestions chances are they will have left this habit far behind them.

Listed below are the potential dangers of thumb/finger sucking:

  • Oral Development after the age of six: Proper mouth growth, teeth alignment & changes in the roof of the mouth
  • Sickness-This effects any age, transference of bacteria, germs and viruses into the mouth. This can be lessened by frequently washing their hands.
  • Increased difficulty in stopping the habit the older they get

Some home remedies placed on their fingers that people have suggested to me, though I've never tried them as it just seems plain cruel to me:

  • Listerine
  • Vinegar
  • Cinnamon
  • Hot curry
  • Hot pepper sauce

Most of these don't work depending on the age of the child because most will just wash it off or learn to adjust to the flavors.

There are commercially sold products to aid parent of this habit as well, but most involve placing it on the child's fingers as well.


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