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Thread: Thumb Sucking

  1. #1
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    Default Thumb Sucking

    Hi ladies~

    I have a nephew that is almost 10 years old that still sucks his thumb Do you have any suggestions how to get him to stop?? My SIL and my mom have tried but nothing seems to be working. He's the oldest of four kids (plus they had two foster kids for awhile) so we're thinking it may be an attention thing??

    Thank you for any help!
    Tiffany (33) David (33) STC 7 years. Unexplained infertility. History of Endometriosis, Corrected Septate Uterus & possible PCOS. DH=Exceptional



  2. #2

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    Well.. I actually was 10 when I stopped sucking my thumb at night. What helped me was internal embarrassment I didn't want anyone to know I sucked my my thumb at a sleepover party so I just told myself I would stop. Meaning basically I was ashamed of myself enough to stop. He almost has to be embarrassed to stop because otherwise he probably isn't going to care. If he feels somehow OK with it then he's not going to stop. I was told by a dentist for years from age 5 to age 10 my teeth were going to be jacked up and I'll need braces. Welp.. that didn't matter because I never needed braces knock on wood. My brother that was the good child and listened was the one who ended up needing braces which I felt bad he needed them. I was the strange kid who actually wanted braces back then but, didn't need them. A few things I've heard is to take regular ole powdered Kool-aide because its bitter without the sugar to dip his thumb in there so if its in his mouth he'll be disgusted. I've heard to use hot sauce on the thumb, to paint nails but, since he is a guy he probably wouldn't go for that, a bribe though most people won't agree with me on that but, at age 10 I would bribe them at a last retort if nothing else works.
    Last edited by mom2CodySophia0811; 06-16-2014 at 12:20 PM.
    *** Lindsay ***



  3. #3

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    they do make a special 'nail polish' that has a bitter taste and its clear to help stop biting nails.. maybe that would work? or you could dip his thumb in nail polish remover and then wipe it dry. nailpolish remover has bitrex in it which leave a bitter residue on the skin which is nasty to taste but wouldn't cause any harm in residue form.
    you could also sent to a fun camp and maybe he will be like the pp and too embarrassed (sp) to do it there and then drop the habit?
    Last edited by froggie83; 06-16-2014 at 01:15 PM.



  4. #4
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    I am interested to hear more responses!
    Please stay with me LOBrittany(28)DH(39) DSD-(18) DS-Tristan(4) DD-Brooke(3) DS-Preston(1)*my miracles*

    12/05/07 14wks, 10/10/08 9wks, 12/20/13 8wks, 05/06/14 10wks

  5. #5
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    I have a friend who sucked her thumb till.... mid-20s. Nothing was working for her. I actually don't know if she still does it or not in her 30s! My niece is 8 and she still does it. Bitter nail polish didn't work. Putting spicy/bitter stuff on her thumb didn't work. My mom has to constantly remind her not to do to when she stays over. She does it less now but she is highly upset or insecure - thumb to the rescue.

  6. #6
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    I haven't dealt with this specific issue in a 10 year old, but what I've learned about behavioral intervention would tell me a couple of things.

    First, identify what purpose the behavior is serving: Is it a way to cope with stress? Does it feel good? Is it a way to get attention?

    Second, instead of trying to eliminate/punish the behavior, focus on teaching a replacement behavior as an alternative that will meet the same need that is met now by thumbsucking. I couldn't say what that would be without knowing the purpose of the behavior, but for example if it is a stress release, maybe he could try squeezing a stress ball or something similar.

    This link explains the process in much more detail: http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/Files/downlo...t-Behavior.pdf
    Me (40) DH (47) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

  7. #7
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    Hmmm...I think it may be combination of stress, feeling good and attention. I've mostly noticed it when he's relaxing, though. When I saw him this weekend he would do it when he was in the car and when watching a movie. He also likes to have a strand of hair (usually from a sister) to twirl, too.
    Tiffany (33) David (33) STC 7 years. Unexplained infertility. History of Endometriosis, Corrected Septate Uterus & possible PCOS. DH=Exceptional



  8. #8
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    I am not a specialist, but I do know that this could be a sign of some unresolved emotional issues. If you have a place to take him for some kind of evaluation, to see a specialist, perhaps you might get more ideas. "Weaning" off thumb sucking can be actually more stressful than it looks like. In my niece's case I do know it has to do with emotional state: she lots her mom when she was 2+ and up until now she has this self-rejection thing going on: with every little thing she would just tell her dad or my mom that they should just throw her out, leave her in the street and no need to love her because no one loves her anyway (and btw, this is NEVER said to her - something she just made up). Unfortunately, where they live there are no good psychologists to work with her. She started sucking her thumb when she was just a baby and she started giving it up around 1+ but then it seems my sister being sick and passing away within a year + made her more vulnerable.
    It is very hard to understand what goes on in children's minds. Even if your family is generally "healthy", there are might be some things that affected/affect your son somewhere somehow hence he feels the needs to have this "security".
    Miss T (10.17.2008) Miss A(06.30.2012) Flipper #3 due 06.2014
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrsRiv View Post
    Hmmm...I think it may be combination of stress, feeling good and attention. I've mostly noticed it when he's relaxing, though. When I saw him this weekend he would do it when he was in the car and when watching a movie. He also likes to have a strand of hair (usually from a sister) to twirl, too.
    It might be a sensory/movement thing for him and giving him something to fidget with might be a good strategy. Or, like a PP said, it might (or might not) be a sign of difficulty handling his emotions and counseling might be in order looking at the big picture.

    My cousin posted this on facebook the other day and I thought it was pretty interesting: http://www.balancedandbarefoot.com/b...hildren-fidget
    Me (40) DH (47) & furbabies * m/c 7/08 4/12 11/12

  10. #10
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    I will ask my sister, lol. My family doesn't have any out standing emotional problems, totally normal American childhood and she sucked her thumb until 14, 16, idk something crazy. Actually, I think her husband was joking the other day that he saw her thumb in her mouth....sounds soooooo hilarious to me! She is 23.

    Now my neighbor that I care for most of the week sucks his thumb anytime he sits on the couch. He is 10. At my house I do one rest time movie for the day. So he doesn't have much opportunity here. His " nana" however tells me that over there it's always in his mouth. And it's how he sleeps. He has emotional issues though. No mom (drugs) and dad is very horrible alcoholic ( lives with dad and dad's sister "nana").

    Now my DD started sucking her thumb 4weeks ago! She NEVER did this before! No problems in my household.... My dd does it only at bedtime though. Guess it's soothing.

    Not trying to take over your thread! I'm just pointing out that, yes, some times thumb sucking is in response to stress and self soothing and sometimes, I think, it's just a habit (like biting nails) which I did any time I would sit on the couch hahahahahah.
    Please stay with me LOBrittany(28)DH(39) DSD-(18) DS-Tristan(4) DD-Brooke(3) DS-Preston(1)*my miracles*

    12/05/07 14wks, 10/10/08 9wks, 12/20/13 8wks, 05/06/14 10wks

  11. #11

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    DS2 is a thumb sucker. We have 3D images of him sucking it in utero and he became a proficient pro at it at 3 months of age. He typically doesn't walk around in public sucking his thumb and if he tries to talk to us through his thumb he is politely told that we cannot understand him and that he must take his thumb out of his mouth.

    Because it's just so "him" I don't feel the need to change the behavior. My assumption is that it is soothing to him as he typically does it when he's tired or sleeping. I certainly don't want to shame him into stopping and I really don't feel the need to curb the behavior. Of course, he's not 10 ... I may feel differently in 7 years.

    Before I had my first child my father, who was a thumb sucker, encouraged me to introduce a pacifier because it could be taken away whereas a thumb cannot. I thought that made sense and DS1 took to a pacifier just fine and was easily weaned from it at 18 months. DS2 would NEVER take one. Best laid plans, right? ;)

    I imagine, like in Lindsay's case, your nephew will probably take the hint and let go of it himself or just become a closeted thumb sucker. I feel it's less likely to be an attention thing and more just a built in soothing activity.

    Incidentally, my father also does the twirling thing with his hair.
    Dorcas (36) DH (37) 3/13



  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwenn View Post
    My cousin posted this on facebook the other day and I thought it was pretty interesting: http://www.balancedandbarefoot.com/b...hildren-fidget
    Great read! Thanks for posting!!
    Dorcas (36) DH (37) 3/13



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwenn View Post
    It might be a sensory/movement thing for him and giving him something to fidget with might be a good strategy. Or, like a PP said, it might (or might not) be a sign of difficulty handling his emotions and counseling might be in order looking at the big picture.

    My cousin posted this on facebook the other day and I thought it was pretty interesting: http://www.balancedandbarefoot.com/b...hildren-fidget
    My SIL actually just posted this article. It's so my nephew. He's always active! Unless he gets to watch TV or play video games (he'll zone out completely) because my SIL keeps that very restricted or else he would just do that all day (just like daddy - my brother was a legit video game addict.) My parents actually took my brother for counseling when he was young because he was always getting into trouble. The counselor said there was nothing wrong with him - he just needed to be kept challenged.

    I feel like it could be a soothing thing for him, especially since he went from being the first and only child/grandchild to just the oldest of many over the years and they've already moved a few times. He lives in North Dakota now while I'm Wisconsin...so wish I could help more

    Thank you for all your responses! It's comforting knowing that he's not alone in this habit.
    Tiffany (33) David (33) STC 7 years. Unexplained infertility. History of Endometriosis, Corrected Septate Uterus & possible PCOS. DH=Exceptional



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