Thumb sucking affecting concentration at school

(18 Posts)
DoreensEatingHerSoreen Thu 06-Mar-14 15:28:40

DS is in reception and sucks his thumb constantly. Since he started in September, the teacher, TA and I have all encouraged him not to suck his thumb at school, but his teacher has just told me that the habit has gotten worse, not better.

I've been told that it really affects his concentration and that once the thumb is in he seems to "zone out". He will stop when prompted but within a few minutes the thumb is back in again.

DS may well have larger issues around his listening and concentration which the school and I are investigating /addressing in a number of ways, however now that I have been made aware of the extent of this thumb sucking at school, I'd like to try and help him to stop.

I'm thinking about starting with a thumb guard and maybe a reward chart for wearing it? I've thought about the nasty tasting sprays too but feel a bit mean! Does anyone have any experience of stopping a determined and long-term thumb sucker?

Parliamo Thu 06-Mar-14 15:36:56

My dd us in reception and sucks her thumb. She also twirls her hair to the extent of pulling it out, although this is not so bad as it was (she had bald patches aged 2!)

When I looked into it a bit, it's usually a comfort thing when they're tired etc. tbh my experience of trying to stop hair twirling was that it really didn't work. I would guess it's symptomatic of 'zoning out', rather than causing it. I would also guess his class is too loud and a bit much for him, and this is his way of copingHopefully he will learn to cope and grow out of it.

Guardianto2 Thu 06-Mar-14 16:37:40

Try sticking a length of plaster around the thumb that he sucks, Cheaper than a thumb guard but you still get the same result of an unpleasant sensation.
The kind that comes in a tape role and can be cut to any length is the best to use.

DontWannaBeObamasElf Thu 06-Mar-14 18:32:32

I remember sucking my thumb with a plaster on, it was gross but just whipped it off.

My mum painted my thumbnail with polish and told me if I put it in my mouth it would poison me.......

It worked but I wouldn't suggest it!

I sucked my thumb throughout primary school, I still do it when really really tired and nobody's looking! I suspect as suggested by a previous poster that the thumb sucking might be a symptom of tiredness rather than the cause of him zoning out?

My mum tried all sorts including that nasty StopNGrow stuff on my thumbnails, if you suck it for long enough it all comes off, though it tastes foul while it's coming off! In the end I just decided to stop (in public) when I got to around 8 or 9ish.

Goldmandra Thu 06-Mar-14 18:52:49

I'd also ask whether the thumb sucking is really causing him to zone out or whether it could be that he's zoning out for a different reason and sucking his thumb at the same time because he is seeking comfort.

IME children use comfort behaviours when they are struggling to cope. I'd look for the trigger for that rather than trying to stop him seeking comfort.

not2nitedarling Thu 06-Mar-14 19:33:43

watching with interest as my dd is 4 and in nursery. Am really trying to encourage her not to do it in the day. When she is not busy..or when listening to a story or watching tv she will suck her thumb. He mouth looks out of shape but dentist has never said(I've never asked!!)

Good luck.. watching for inspiration...

Parliamo Thu 06-Mar-14 19:38:31

Goldmandra said it better than me! Could the other issues you mention be more relevant than you first thought?

DoreensEatingHerSoreen Thu 06-Mar-14 20:43:57

Agree it could be the symptom rather than the cause, his teacher mentioned that he has seemed tired since coming back from half term, he's a 12 hour sleeper 7 til 7 uninterrupted every night so he SHOULDN'T be tired, and is always full of energy when I collect him. We've tried going to bed at 6.30 tonight and he fell straight asleep so maybe he does need a little longer.

Issues in school are related to listening and concentration, he struggles with both at carpet time but is quite good one on one. He saw the speech and language therapist yesterday as he also has some speech production issues, but she said that she had no major concerns and his understanding of information and instructions was age appropriate. Next step would be to seen by the Ed. Psychologist.

I showed DS some thumb guards online after school and he got really excited about choosing a design and the thought of wearing it to stop sucking his thumb at school, I think he wants to stop as the teachers keep asking him to, but he doesn't realise he is doing it. We have ordered the guard and will see how it goes.

Goldmandra Thu 06-Mar-14 21:26:02

I would ask the teacher to observe and record when he is thumb sucking and zoning out to see if there is an identifiable pattern to it. This is pretty basic stuff but they may not have done it and it could help them identify a trigger.

If he's very tired he could be struggling with sensory issues which is utterly exhausting for children, especially in school which is an intense, prolonged and challenging sensory experience for some children.

When you collect him, is he full of energy but relaxed or is he explosive and on edge?

DoreensEatingHerSoreen Thu 06-Mar-14 22:19:17

That's a good idea Gold thank you I will ask her to do that.

He's not explosive at all when I pick him up, he's happy and likes a quick run around with his friends in the playground before we walk home, very chatty and generally well. As I say he's a good sleeper so Ian surprised he's tired at school, sensory overload is something I had not really considered so will ask some questions.

I've met with the SENCO and while she agreed that there were some concerns around listening / concentration and speech / language she did not think there were major issues, and the first step was the speech and language assessment that took place yesterday.

DS's teacher called me today and said that the thumb sucking was a real concern, that it was pretty much constant and taking up the time the TA spends with him as she is spending so long asking him to take it out hmm

DoreensEatingHerSoreen Thu 06-Mar-14 22:20:42

*I am surprised

No Ian! grin

Happypiglet Thu 06-Mar-14 22:28:15

Just to answer your original question my DD sucked her thumb from babyhood and although she stopped herself in the day it was so subconscious that it was in all night.
We used a thumb guard and it worked a treat. She was in Reception at the time.
The speech issue could actually be related to the thumb sucking. Dd had to have salt as she hadn't developed some sounds properly due to her thumb being in too much.
Also my dentist was pretty specific about the damage being caused to her teeth and jaw development.
So I would say use the thumb guard it took about three weeks to break the habit completely. Best sixty quid I ever spent.

Parliamo Fri 07-Mar-14 12:43:14

I am a bit surprised the teacher is going on about it so much, it doesn't sound particularly sympathetic or understanding. And maybe if the Ta stops nagging him, he'll want to talk to her a bit more!

If I were you I'd be asking them to ignore it while you're working our a strategy for how to handle it, because I would bet quite a bit going on and on isn't helping!

Fwiw, my dd sucks her thumb a lot at school, and I only know because the other children in her class tell me! I think the teacher has only mentioned it sympathetically in a - oh she seems a bit tired this week.

Parliamo Fri 07-Mar-14 12:44:08

I am a bit surprised the teacher is going on about it so much, it doesn't sound particularly sympathetic or understanding. And maybe if the Ta stops nagging him, he'll want to talk to her a bit more!

If I were you I'd be asking them to ignore it while you're working our a strategy for how to handle it, because I would bet quite a bit going on and on isn't helping!

Fwiw, my dd sucks her thumb a lot at school, and I only know because the other children in her class tell me! I think the teacher has only mentioned it sympathetically in a - oh she seems a bit tired this week.

Parliamo Fri 07-Mar-14 12:44:32

Oops!

Poshers Fri 07-Mar-14 21:09:54

I'm 36 and still suck my thumb! I am well educated & have a successful career in the City (on mat leave at mo) ... really ... does it matter, certainly hasn't hindered my learning! I'm totally biased I know as I do it, BUT I've never smoked etc so is thumb sucking really such a bad habit?!? winkwink

Poshers Fri 07-Mar-14 21:10:26

I'm 36 and still suck my thumb! I am well educated & have a successful career in the City (on mat leave at mo) ... really ... does it matter, certainly hasn't hindered my learning! I'm totally biased I know as I do it, BUT I've never smoked etc so is thumb sucking really such a bad habit?!? winkwink

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now