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thumb-sucking - when and how to stop?

(11 Posts)
wehopeyoulikespaghetti Mon 03-Feb-14 21:47:54

grateful to hear any experiences or advice that people have.

My two ds are now aged 7 and 9 and have always sucked their thumbs. I then had a dd (now 3) to whom we firmly gave a dummy, since I figured I could at least take that away one day...

When ds2 was about 18mths, some annoying dentist or other gave me a ticking off saying he needed to stop sucking his thumb (cue dh practically dragging me out of the dentist's office as I launched into several minutes worth of "do you have children? Exactly how am I supposed to stop a 1 year old sucking his thumb?" etc)

So ever since then, (ds1 must have been at pre-school at the time, age 3) we've been badgering ds1 to stop sucking his thumb. When ds2 got to about 4, we did the same with him. We had short periods of applying nail-yuck (that's the offical name, I believe) to put them off, but we didn't do it for long enough and a few months later we realised they were sucking their thumbs at night and just trying to hide it from us. In the last year there was more and more thumb-sucking and it felt like we were constantly nagging, ticking off, making empty threats and just giving them a hard time about something they were finding comforting, for no gain at all. So maybe about 3-4 months ago, we just gave up and stopped giving them a hard time.

I feel now that we did it totally, totally wrong. If I had my time again, I would never badger them at all, and just wait for them to get older and give up. I feel that by making it verboten for so many years, it's become more essential for them to do it. But what do I do now? Dh hates them sucking their thumb. I don't really mind it, but I really, really don't want them to reach adulthood and still be doing it, and I currently don't feel sure they'll actually give up of their own accord.

Dh was chief badgerer back when we were nagging them, and greatly to his credit, he agreed to stop ticking them off for it and has been brilliant about it for at least 3 months. He's starting to point out (not in front of them) that this doesn't seem to have done any good, and they are sucking their thumbs more than ever now.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Do we have any control here? Or do you think if we wait and wait they'll eventually just stop?

ameliarose2012 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:03:48

I sucked my thumb when I was young - so much so that one thumb is a good 1/2 inch longer than the other! My mum used to put a pair o tights over my hands and arms, then put my clothes over the top so I couldn't get them off! I think your DC sound a little old for that tactic! Even though I got so much pleasure out of it when I was small, I must have stopped at some point. Probably when they hit puberty (so not much longer really) they'll stop, as they won't want their friends to see. I wouldn't worry too much tbh. They'll stop in their own time xxx

Mummyjetsetter Mon 03-Feb-14 22:32:13

I'd give some bribery a good go! My almost 4 yo bites his nails so we're bribing him to stop at the moment. We've said 2 nail cuts and we'll go to toys r us and get a treat. 1st nail cut will be in the next day or so. I used to be friends with a girl when I was 18 who still sucked her thumb, pretty sure she still does it over 30, her thumb is tiny and her teeth are arched and growth stunted so I would try to knock it on the head because it can become a horrible habit, that's why I got dummies in to my kids from the start and it's easy to bribe them age 3 ish. Good luck! xa

Doubletroublemummy2 Mon 03-Feb-14 23:29:29

I have a thumb sucker and her dad was a thumb sucker. His dad paid him at age 11 to stop sucking his thumb. He is missing his bottom front teeth because of it. I was so anti dummies when they were little but I did try at one point to swap the thumb for dummy, it was instantly rejected, admittedly I didn't try very hard. When you find a answer let me know , Pleeeeease, I don't want my DD having a toothless grin

5OBalesofHay Mon 03-Feb-14 23:34:22

I have a nearly 15 year old thumbsucker. No idea what to do, bit her teeth are fine.

MeepMeepVrooooom Mon 03-Feb-14 23:40:42

Good luck I still sometimes suck my thumb when really tired or Ill and I'm 25. My DD tells me off for doing it grin

In all fairness it's very rare and I stopped doing it in public when I was 11. My Mum tried stop and grow on both me and my brother but we soon learnt nail varnish took it off. It won't be easy.

MeepMeepVrooooom Mon 03-Feb-14 23:41:28

My teeth are fine tough.

lolalotta Tue 04-Feb-14 06:47:13

I stopped sucking mine at about 11, my teeth are fine too !

atthestrokeoftwelve Tue 04-Feb-14 07:04:27

I think part of the reason that kids suck their thumbs is that many have the bottle stopped at 12 months. Babies and toddlers have such a need to suck that will resort to a thumb if nothing else available.

I know there are sound reasons for withdrawing a bottle at a year, but babies need to suck long after that.

wehopeyoulikespaghetti Thu 06-Feb-14 23:20:05

maybe, twelve, but most children start sucking their thumbs a long time before anyone takes any bottles away... either way it doesn't help me now.

I know someone who's an adult who sucks her thumb in public, often. It looks awful! I should probably just get over it...

My natural instinct is to let it run its course. I think any form of bribery etc will just result in them hiding it from us again. But currently we are trying a new tactic every month or so, just to try and confuse them. Excellent, consistent parenting, I'm sure you'll agree. hmm

Pimpf Thu 06-Feb-14 23:28:33

Dd1 had a dummy and we got rid of that after 2 weeks of hell when you was about a 3.

Dd2 is a thumb sucker, always has been since birth and refused a dummy.

Dentist has told us off for allowing her to suck her thumb but she does it when she's tired, upset and in the night. Sort of sitting up with her all night, there's no way we could stop it. She 7 now and have spoken to others who have said there is no conclusive proof that thumb sucking damages teeth.

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