If your child is about to start preschool or daycare, it’s time to start breaking some of their bad habits. In this series, we will cover some tactics that will help you kick those bad habits to the curb. Today’s bad habit is thumb and finger sucking.
During infancy, thumb and finger sucking is a completely normal way for children to soothe and entertain themselves. However, past toddlerhood thumb sucking can become one of the worst habits for your child. Not only can it be the source of teasing around age 5, but it can also leave permanent damage to their jaw shape, teeth, and speech. To nip this bad habit in the bud, try applying the following tips:
Talk it Out
Explain to your child why thumb sucking is a bad habit, such as how it can start making his teeth look funny. Let your child know that when he is ready to stop, you will be there for him.
Set a Limit
To start weaning your child off thumb sucking, you can tell your child that thumb sucking should not be done during the daytime. Limiting thumb sucking to bedtime or naptime is a good way to reduce the amount of thumb sucking your child does on a daily basis.
Praise Good Behavior
For every hour that your child goes without sucking her thumb, you should tell her that you noticed she didn’t suck her thumb and praise her for this good behavior.
When you catch your child sucking his thumb, simply ask him ‘Do you know you’re sucking your thumb right now?’ Chances are he will say no because most kids don’t realize when they are sucking their thumbs. By asking him this question every time he sucks his thumb, you are raising his self-awareness.
Replace with Other Activities
You can distract your child from sucking her thumb with a substitute activity, such as a squishy ball or puppets.
Avoid Nagging and Punishing
Nagging or punishing your child and pulling his finger out of his mouth every time you catch him sucking his thumb can backfire on you. This will just make your child want to continue sucking his thumb even more and this will only result in a power struggle.
At Cranium Academy, our goal is to build character and leadership in every student. To provide consistency between school and home life, we work hand-in-hand with parents to help children break their bad habits. If you’re working on kicking the thumb sucking habit, let your child’s teacher know so that we can help you with the process. One less bad habit is one step closer to building good character and being a leader!