Fewer allergies: A possible upside of thumb sucking and nail biting – Harvard Health


A while back, I got this question…

Q: Hi, Good day ma’am! Thanks a lot for the way you have been helping lots of people with their problems. How does one stop a child from sucking her thumb always in a healthy way?

A: Interesting question!

Children suck their thumbs at an early age as a means of soothing themselves or coping with stress/anxiety or even when bored. Usually, this habit would stop between the ages of 2 to 4 years old. If it continues longer than that your baby’s teeth start to give way to accommodate the thumb leading to a situation where your baby’s upper teeth no longer align properly with the lower teeth. It can also lead to speech problems.
How do you stop a child from sucking his thumb? Hmm, I’m sure that lots of people can share a lot from their personal experiences eg tying up the thumb, putting terrible tasting stuff on it like vinegar, mustard, bitter leaf, nail polish etc. In some instances, these harsh methods get children to stop this habit but they probably latch on to another habit, like bedwetting. So, we do not advocate any of these.

What can you do as a parent? Well, if the child, is not 6 years yet, ignoring the thumb sucking is an option. Don’t go into a big fuss and fight about it. He’s more likely to stop because some children teased him about it that the fact that you screamed about it.

Talk to him about why sucking his thumb is a bad idea. Talk to him about germs that he’s giving free access into his body etc and be sure to praise him when he’s not sucking his fingers/thumb. In fact, you could go as far as providing a reward to re-enforce this good behavior.
Remember that before the age of 6 years, we still believe that your baby will kick this habit all by himself. He usually does about the age of 4-5 years.

Now that was my answer some years back. The post below suggests that there may actually be benefits to this habit! :O Read!

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