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.....to fit plastic thumb guards onto my 2 year old, to stop thumb sucking?

(71 Posts)
stoopstofolly Wed 26-Sep-12 09:35:19

First time poster, long time lurker.

I?m having an argument debate with DH about DS?s constant thumb sucking. He?s just 2, and sucks his thumb for hours a day. The dentist says it?s affecting his jaw, the audiologist says that his speech is delayed because his thumb is in all the time, and sometimes his thumb is so sore it bleeds.

On Sunday I watched him try to eat Sunday lunch without removing his thumb! My doctor said that normally she?d recommend leaving it in the hope he grows out of it, but because it?s so extreme, she suggested this:

www.thumbguard.co.uk/

I fitted it 2 days ago. He doesn?t seem bothered by wearing it BUT he?s unhappy because he's not able to suck his thumb. He?s gone from being a laid back, cheerful little boy to a grumpy, sad one- and it?s my fault. I?ve taken his (very effective) self soothing mechanism away, and he?s nothing to replace it with. He?s also waking at 5 am and is unable to go back to sleep.

DH says that he?s only little and we should focus on him being happy (hard to disagree with.) However, I?m persevering with it because when I look at his poor bleeding (literally!) thumb, listen to other children his age using words he?s never attempted, and remember what the dentist, doctor and audiologist said, I think we need to do something. However, the fact he?s unhappy is extremely distressing. We?ve no history on either side of the family of thumb sucking, and none of my friends children do it, so I?ve no one to ask. Am I doing the right thing?

CajaDeLaMemoria Wed 26-Sep-12 09:39:19

Did the doctor not suggest anything to replace it with?

I'm surprised that they haven't encouraged you to find something else that can soothe him, hopefully without needing to suck it. A teddy or a blanket or something that he can use for security as he does his thumb - with a replacement, you'll probably find he is happy and relaxed again, even if it does take some time for him to stop wanting to suck his thumb.

It's a hard thing to do, but for what its worth, I think you are doing the right thing. It just gets harder as they get older! Give him lots of extra cuddles and try to teach him to soothe in other ways - hopefully this stage will be over very soon, and he'll start talking more.

SpaceCorpsDirective34124 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:40:44

I am 38 and I still suck my thumb. blush It has wrecked my teeth and I have a wonky jaw. and I can't stop! It is a bitch of a habit to break. It's so soothing and comforting.

I disagree with your husband. If you don't tackle it now, it will get harder and harder to break. It will be hellish in the short term, but for the sake of the long term, you'll just have to cope with it. Find something - a toy perhaps - to be his comforter.

Every parent wants their child to be happy, but you can't be shortsighted about it. Many times you have to accept short term unhappiness because you are looking at the big picture. You can't take the easy /soft hearted option. Particularly if it is causing speech delay and dental problems! You really can't.

VoterColonelSebastianDoyle Wed 26-Sep-12 09:41:00

i know this may sound a bit silly now, but instead of him doing damage to his thumb,if you still want him to be soothed by something maybe try him with a dummy? (prepares to be flamed) At least then its not hurting his thumb?

Fairylea Wed 26-Sep-12 09:44:46

Not usually something I'd suggest but would he have a dummy instead... for night time etc ?? Then you can give it away to the dummy fairies at some point....

I have to say my 9 yr old still sucks her thumb occasionally and at night and I've never stopped her. I guess it depends how chronic it is but 2 seems very young to be worrying about it to me...

IloveJudgeJudy Wed 26-Sep-12 09:52:43

No, you are nbu. I know a girl who is now 18 who still sucks her thumb. It is completely deformed and very small. She also gets mocked for it as she does it in public, not just at home.

Agree with trying a dummy for him to soothe himself if a teddy or other cuddly toy (or indeed any toy) will not work for him. It's a few days (or maybe weeks) of grumpiness for a life of being able to speak properly, not having a bleeding thumb, nor having a deformed mouth.

EspressoMartiniToGo Wed 26-Sep-12 09:53:00

Be strong and stick with it, my ds who is now nearly 9 is now having to be fitted with braces and has had to have several milk teeth removed. Constant thumb sucking up to age 5ish (when he self-weaned!) has narrowed his jaw so there is not enough space for his adult teeth coming through. Tis rotten to deprive him of a habit he loves so much, but if I could go back in time then I would have broken him of the habit at about your ds's age. Agree with trying a sleep time dummy or blanky. Good luck!

IWishIWasSheRa Wed 26-Sep-12 11:09:01

I think you are doing the right thing! I used them for my daughter when she was 3 or just turned 4 - cant remember. I didn't experience the problems you were having because having heard the dentist she decided she didn't want' poorly teeth' so we fitted the guards so she wouldn't accidentally suck her thumb- it took two weeks and she is 6 now and hasnt sucked it since. She also stopped using her comforter soon after naturally as it no longer held the same association and now takes a different teddy every night. her teeth had visibly moved to a better position within 6 months and her adult teeth have come through in the correct position.
Unfortunately you are not at the age of reason so this is traumatic for both of you, but you're over the worst already- id take him to the shops and get a new teddy for being so clever using the guards to help move away from old associations. His speech is the key here, you are doing this for his benefit!
Early waking will only be temporary- he will settle down- 2 weeks is all it took! It's just different for him and before long his words will come and it will be easier to soothe himself, don't doubt yourself- my husband wasnt as keen and I felt like the bad guy too but it was absolutely right!
Also I trimmed the plastic to make them more comfortable and they still worked. Good luck

GoldShip Wed 26-Sep-12 11:15:43

You're doing the right thing, it'll just take time.

bragmatic Wed 26-Sep-12 11:17:24

I'd stick with it. It'll only take a couple of weeks.

kissyfur Wed 26-Sep-12 11:20:48

I think you are doing the right thing too. My DD also thumb sucks although not as much as your DS by the sound of it. Her dentist has said its caused an overbite already sad I've already looked at the thumb guard website and will be getting one for her once she turns 3. I'd do it sooner but am expecting DC2 in 7 weeks and don't want her to associate not being able to suck her thumb with the baby arriving. Good luck with your DS, you're doing the best thing for him in the long run smile

Caerlaverock Wed 26-Sep-12 11:23:02

God they are expensive!

SoupDragon Wed 26-Sep-12 11:23:47

You are absolutely doing the right thing.

Stick with it. Don't give him a dummy - that won't help his teeth and jaws.

my dd sucked hers up to 9, last year the dentist recommended we wrapped surgical tape around her thumb attaching it to two of her fingers so she cant put it in - works a treat and she does stop at night now, they also suggested rolling a flannel tight legth ways and taping it to the crack of her elbow inside so she cant bend the hand up to her mouth bit like a splint.

SoupDragon Wed 26-Sep-12 11:26:25

DS1 sucked his thumb and caused a large open bite with his front teeth and pushed the lower jaw back.

£4k worth of private orthodontic treatment and 6 years later, aged 13, he has fabulous straight teeth and a wonderful strong profile. He will wear the brace at night until he stops growing.

DD (6.5) will start the same treatment when her top teeth fall out. She has the same problems as DS1, although slightly less pronounced.

SoupDragon Wed 26-Sep-12 11:27:43

A large pair of tights, worn like a shrug under their PJ top, will stop them sucking at night. DSs orthodontist recommended long sock on both arms but I feel the tights method will be harder to get off smile

I've always chewed my pinky fingers and they are a wreck now, cracked, callussed, they look arthritic and the bone is deformed. sad

Stick with it and try a nice new comfort blanket?

Pandemoniaa Wed 26-Sep-12 11:33:25

Try and stick with it. I had a friend whose teenage son still sucked his thumb. Apart from the tooth damage he got the pissed taken out of him terribly. Which set up something of a vicious circle because the unhappier he felt, the more he sucked his thumb for comfort. It all became a much greater problem that if he'd been gently dissuaded as a much younger child.

stoopstofolly Wed 26-Sep-12 12:06:43

Thanks you all so much! Feeling MUCH better, and will show DH this thread. Liked the idea of replacing it with something... he's got a stuffed toy he's very fond of- I'm giving it to him when he's grumpy and it does seem to make things a bit better better (until I'm posting in 4 years time about a 6 year old who won't be parted from a grotty stuffed animal!!) Going to grit my teeth and get on with it!

Pandemoniaa Wed 26-Sep-12 12:13:23

<thinks this may not be the best time to mention how much trouble I got in when I threw Rosie Rabbit away after ds2 left for university>

thegreylady Wed 26-Sep-12 12:20:34

My dgs is 3-he sucks his thumb far too much and also has a beloved stuffed toy which is essential at bedtime.So far the dentist doesnt seem too bothered and his speech is excellent.I hope it stops before he is 5 though or he will be teased at school.

MummyPig24 Wed 26-Sep-12 13:33:30

Well done, its so hard seeing them upset but it sounds like your ds was an extreme thumb sucking junkie! Dd was getting too fond of her dummy so the easter bunny took it and she was fine, she does chew a muzzy though which is just gross but as its not affecting her I let her do it.

sashh Wed 26-Sep-12 14:11:43

In magic shops you can get light up thumb tips, not sure if they would be too big for such a small one - but having magic light up thumbs might be fun.

I also think a dummy might be useful.

SoupDragon Wed 26-Sep-12 14:15:16

A dummy won't be useful as it perpetuates the problem and still causes damage. Basically, there is damage caused when the teeth are not kept together so that the jaws do not grow correctly. Anything that means the child's mouth is open and "slack jawed" can cause this damage.

ClippedPhoenix Wed 26-Sep-12 14:16:11

One thing I would advise is if you go down the stuffed toy route, make sure you have a few of them a replacement. In case of loss.

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