Monday, March 12, 2012


Gareth is a thumb-sucker. Thankfully, he usually only sucks his thumb at night to get himself to sleep. Though on occasion he will grab his orange blanket during the day and suck his thumb then. I've been telling him for a while now that he will need to stop sucking his thumb at some point. Little procrastinator that he is, he's always replied, "I'll stop sucking my thumb when I'm five" or something else to that effect. The other day I asked him not to suck his thumb at night since he had some cracked skin on his thumb that had been bleeding and I wanted it to actually get better. Now he's changed his response to, "But I like my orange blanket so much!". And I point out that liking his orange blanket does not require him to suck his thumb.

A couple days after asking him not to suck his thumb at night he had his first ever dentist appointment. (He did awesome, by the way. He was very excited to go and opened his mouth wide and was told that he has very clean teeth.) One thing the dentist asked us to work on was to get him to stop sucking his thumb. I told her that he only sucks it at night to get himself to sleep. Unfortunately, everything she said about how to help him stop was really more applicable to daytime thumb-suckers. Peer pressure from fellow Kindergarteners? Yeah, that'd only work if they actually knew he was sucking his thumb, which they won't because he only does it at bedtime. Sticker chart? That means I'd have to know whether he was sucking his thumb or not, which I don't because I don't stay in the room with him while he falls asleep. I'd have to rely completely on him telling me whether or not he did. And there's a chance that he wouldn't know for sure himself if he used it during the middle of the night to fall back asleep or something. About the only helpful advice she had was to just be encouraging. My guess is we'll have to retire the orange blanket to the closet at some point, but I'm definitely going to wait on that until the baby comes and Gareth's had a chance to adjust. The best part of the whole dentist visit was when she asked him if he thought he could stop sucking his thumb. He looked at her and said, "I don't know". At least the kid is honest! If any of you have advice for stopping thumb-sucking that only occurs at night, please do let me know. As I said, I'm not worrying much about it until after the baby comes, but it'd be great to have some ideas lined up!


Alanna said...

There's that icky stuff you can put on his thumb, but I would only do that if you're sure that he understands what you're doing and is okay with it. That was what my Mom's parents used to stop her sucking her own thumb, but she didn't understand it, so she stuck her thumb in her eye, which (you can imagine) hurt like crazy. She said that she thinks it's pretty sad that despite how loving her parents were, her earliest memory is one of excruciating pain!

I sucked my two fingers, and gave it up when I was ready without any sticker charts, rewards, or anything. I did need to have braces, but I think that was going to be the case no matter what...

Myrna said...

I am really conflicted about thumb-sucking. Daughter #2, who was my husband's and I didn't acquire her until she was 1 and a half years old, sucked her thumb and first finger. All the people who knew better than me said, "You have to stop her from sucking like that!" so I made her wear great big mittens pinned to her pajamas that she could not get off. It did stop her sucking, but I have often felt bad about it, and still do. Poor kid. She could have sucked a couple of years longer and hopefully would have stopped on her own. I guess we will never know. My youngest daughter was also a thumb-sucker, but she stopped on her own. Maybe Gareth, after thinking about whether he can give it up or not, will decide that he can. Hopefully so.