The Puny Pundit

Musings of a big guy with small thoughts.

Thumb Suckers

Most parents have to deal with their children sucking their fingers, usually the thumb.  It actually can become a source of stress.  Is it ok?  At what age should they stop?  Will it really ruin their teeth structure?  All of my children, except #3, sucked their finger(s).  Notice the singular and plural.  There is a strange phenomenon in our family.  #1 sucked her thumb.  #2 sucked her index and middle finger at the same time.  #3 never sucked his fingers.  #4 sucked her index finger only.  #5 sucked her middle and ring finger at the same time.  Four different kids, four different combos.  Cracks me up.

#1 sucked her thumb.  Typical.  As first time parents we didn’t know what to do.  One day we told the doctor our concern and the fact that it seemed to help her sleep.  He said, “So you are telling me that thumb sucking comforts your daughter and it helps her sleep?  So what exactly is the problem?  Don’t worry about it.”  So we didn’t worry about it…for like two days.

#2 sucked her index and middle finger.  Funny right?  This kid was something else.  We noticed that this technique was causing her to have an under bite.  Try sucking on your index and middle fingers at the same time.  Do you feel that tug on the bottom jaw?  Well it is my theory that she was creating an under bite by sucking her fingers.  So we tried everything.  We bought this nasty thing you paint on their fingers that tastes really bad and looks like iodine.  Well it didn’t work.  That thing is like those Mexican candies that are nasty spicy on the outside but if you suck it long enough turns sweet.

#2 (and #1 for that matter) just took one for the team and kept sucking.

Since that didn’t work, I taped her fingers with water resistent medical tape.  She tried to suck but it felt so uncomfortable she would just drool and drool into the tape and through the crevices till it got so slippery, the tape would just slide off.

I know every parent and doctor has their opinion on the matter.  While my wife and I tried hard to rid our kids of finger sucking, we just decided to chalk this one up as “losing the battle to win the wars.”  We just told ourselves that no one sucks their fingers in junior high or becomes a bad person because of this habit so we let it go.  We felt like we were making too much of it.  Even if our kids decide to suck their fingers till they go to college, eventually peer pressure will take care of that issue.  It just takes one really mean (or funny comment) from a classmate and voila, the habit is gone.  So why sweat it when there are millions of other things we have to deal with like boys, safety, and demon possession.

Does this make me suck as a parent?  (sorry couldn’t resist that pun-ny comment).  What have you tried?  What do you think about finger sucking?


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2 Responses

  1. Ali says:

    My brother sucked his thumb until he was six years old (although he started wising up later on and only sucked at home, never at school) until I knocked out his front teeth in a game of “mock” boxing.

    After that, I told him that his adult teeth would grow in crooked if he kept sucking his thumb, so he immediately stopped and never sucked it again.

    His teeth grew in crooked anyway and he eventually got braces.

  2. Emily says:

    Okay, I realize I’m a bit late for this conversation! 🙂 My child #1 was a during sleep thumb sucker. We were able to help her break the habit at age 4 with bandaids on her thumb during sleep + sticker charts + rewards. And amazingly within 6 weeks she stopped sucking her thumb. About a month after that I noticed her crooked teeth had straightened out! (Oh and if you ever need a good resource on caring for kids’ teeth, I’ve found this Mom’s Guide to have good info and creative tips.) My child #2 is an all-the-time thumb sucker and we haven’t even tried to help him break the habit. He’ll be 3 next week, so I think we’ll give it another year before really trying. Let’s tackle potty training first!! 🙂

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