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Strategies to Help Your Preschooler Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Strategies to Help Your Preschooler Stop Sucking Their Thumb at Kids 'R' Kids Landstar, preschool, daycare, childcare

For some children, thumb sucking is an incredibly difficult habit to break. What once was cute has now become a bad habit, and you are ready for the thumb sucking to stop. Here are a few strategies to help your preschooler stop sucking their thumb.

  1. Have a conversation about the harm of thumb sucking. You can explain how germs get on their hands, go in their mouth, and sometimes make them sick. It can also cause damage to their mouth and permanent teeth. Your child may not understand that thumb sucking is a bad habit.
  2. Preschoolers can learn about thumb sucking through books such as Thumbs Up, Brown Bear or Anna and Dedo: A Thumb Ventures Out. Some of your children’s favorite television shows may also deal with breaking bad habits, and they are often presented in a way your child can better understand. Or, you might ask your preschooler, “Do you think Bluey sucks his thumb?”
  3. Help your child understand why they are sucking their thumb. Are they tired? Stressed? Hurt? When they are able to identify the cause, you can offer a substitute. This may require taking away stuffed animals or blankets that trigger thumb sucking. 
  4. Some parents turn to bad tasting liquids, gloves, thumb guards, or retainers to help curb thumb sucking. For some children, this causes more stress about quitting. Other children learn how to endure the tastes until they suck off the bad or spicy flavors, or they remove the devices that are blocking their thumb. 
  5. Make it a game or challenge! Every time you catch your preschooler not sucking their thumb, give them a sticker or a point. Let them redeem them for a reward. Start by checking on them every few minutes, and then gradually increase the time. 
  6. Keep it positive. Learning to ditch a bad habit can be very frustrating for both parents and children. Do your best not to punish or ridicule. Instead, offer praise and encouragement. Most likely, your child will not go to college sucking their thumb. Like many things such as sleeping through the night or potty training, stopping this bad habit takes time, patience, and positive reinforcement.  Putting too much pressure on your child to stop thumb sucking might only delay the process.

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Want to learn more about Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Landstar located in Orlando, Florida? Our mission is to provide secure, nurturing, and educational environments for children ages 6 weeks – 12 years. We help children to bloom into responsible, considerate, and contributing members of society. For more information, give us a call or stop by for a tour! We’d love to get to know you and your family.