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?

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