Thumb Sucking Older Kids


Babies often suck their thumbs in the womb and even after birth as a way to self-soothe. But what exactly does a kid 6, 7, 8 or 9 get out of it? Turns out, maybe the same thing. Still, beyond the toddler years, thumb-sucking in older children can be maddening for parents.There is the social stigma, not to mention the damage it can do to teeth. rugrats3 posted a question about her 9-year-old, thumb-sucking daughter--obviously, she wants to know how to make her stop!

Fortunately, most of the responses were understanding. The fact is, punishment doesn't seem to work. But patience does. Thumb-sucking is a habit first and foremost, and as such, it can be terribly hard to break. To compound matters, for older children, thumb-sucking can be a way to cope with stress.

Here's what some moms on CM had to say:

"My cousin still sucks her thumb and she is 24!! Most of the time she does not realize she is doing it. Your daughter will have to make the conscious decision to stop and it will take time, like stopping any other bad habit. Don't punish her, but be supportive. When you see her doing it just remind her to stop."-- darcibeisheim

"Relax, look, I have had students (6th graders) do it and they don't realize that they are doing it...You just have to help her unlearn this behavior. Keep reminding her, have her put a band-aid on it, something that will clue her into that fact that she is doing it. It's a learned behavior that can be unlearned. It's just going to take time. I wouldn't punish her per se, it's a force of habit that has to be broken. Don't get her too stressed about it, otherwise she may do it in hiding."-- ConnorsMommy521

At a blogger mom offers a lot of solid advice on getting thumbsucking under control and she also underscores what's been said here. "Be on your child's side. Be understanding and patient. Yes, you're a firm parent, but in this instance your influence will go further if your child senses you truly understand what they're going through. This also helps to keep the ball squarely in your child's court, where it belongs. See, you are not stopping thumbsucking...your child is. She must own this habit before she can release it."

Does your older child suck his/her thumb? What are you doing, if anything, to help him stop?

elementary school, independence


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

rwwmom rwwmom

My 8 year old son was a daily thumb sucker and we could not seem to break him of it. Then he had to go to the orthodontist. She suggested keeping a band-aid on that thumb at all times and to use a daily sticker reward chart. In less than a week, IT WORKED! We haven't had any relapses! Very simple but very effective! And my son was so proud of himself.

richg... richgirljj

I have an 11 year old who still does it.  I have done it all to try to get him to stop.  Band-aids, reward charts, positive reinforcement, gloves on his hand, chew tool for older kids and adults, (google it), reverse psychology (where you actually say, come on, go suck your thumb, that was given as an idea to us by his psychologist, Thumz, etc.  He still does it.  I figure in time, he will figure it out, but I do still remind him to stop. 

Tempe... TempestRayne

my six  (almost seven) year old still does it, mostly at night when she is sleeping, but we'll catch her durinf the day doing it and remind her to stop.  the only problem is, she is showing some signs fo jaw problems so her dentist is talking baout putting some kind of appliance in her mouth to stop her.

Steph... Stephaniel28

My daughter is 8 1/2 and has been sucking her thumb since she was born.  I thought she would outgrow it by 1 or 2, but no such luck.  Her teeth are really messed up and she still sucks it at night, but finally not during the day anymore.  The dentists say her mouth work will be extensive and I'm sure it will cost me an arm and a leg.  We tried a variety of methods to try to get her to stop, but nothing worked.  We did the hot sauce on the tongue, popsical stick taped to the thumb...and more I can't think of right now.  Nothing helped not even for a day.  I am happy though that she is outgrowing it.  I swore she would go to college sucking

laran... laranadtony

Thumb sucking is a symptom or oral fixations.Oral fixation are a symptom of ...well....oral fixations.

sassy... sassygoddess

I wouldn't let my newborns suck their thumbs for just this reason..I hate seeing it when an older child sucks their thumb or a pacifier.  IMO a pacifier should be taken away by the age of 2, especially if the child talks around it that drives me crazy.  But your child your choice.

Katie... KatieCrandall

I have a friend who still did it at 16 (whenever he'd fall asleep, he'd end up with his thumb in his mouth!).  My son decided he didn't need a pacifier anymore once he found his thumb...I'd rather have him want the thing I can throw away!

south... southpawshelia

Sometimes kids grow out of habits due to peer pressure.

forev... foreverof4

My girls still suck there thumb

Aemelia Aemelia

I don't have any thumb suckers but I sucked my thumb until I was 13 years old.  My aunt sucked hers until she was 15 when she started smoking cigarettes.  My mom sucked hers until she was 9.  My BIL sucked his until he was in his mid twenties.

By the time I stopped no one really knew I did it anymore.  When I was 7 years old I changed schools and I didn't want anyone at the new school to know I did that so I never did it in public again from then on.  By the time I was 13 everyone in my family had stopped bugging me about it so I decided I could quit.  Yeah I am a bit passive agressive, so what!

I personally shoved a pacifier into my kids mouths until they took it because I didn't want them attached to something I couldn't take away.  Then when they were about 8-9 months I stopped letting them have the pacifier anywhere except for bed and in the carseat.  When they were 3 years old the Binky Fairy visited and we left all the pacifiers out for her and she left them a toy.    That worked for me.  My youngest never really tried to suck her thumb and is instead a blankie devotee, she is 2.

My advice is to ignore the thumb sucking.  Once they have sucked their thumb that long they have to decide when to stop.  They have to learn how to calm themselves down and sleep without it.  That isn't something anyone can give you when you are older.

1-10 of 20 comments 12 Last