Most people view thumb sucking as a harmless habit, but if it is continued for too long it can quickly go from innocent to harmful. There are real consequences that can result from thumb sucking, including that of physical, emotional, and social. With a wide variety of impacts that sucking the thumb can have on the child, it is imperative to help your child stop thumb sucking. While it may not be easy—your child will likely resist—it’s necessary to avoid complications that can affect their life into the future. Below are the reasons that you should get your child to stop the habit and how you can get the job done.
On the surface, there are physical consequences of thumb sucking. An overbite or an open bite can be the result of the habit. This is called malocclusion. When a row or both rows of the teeth become misaligned when the child closes their mouth, this can result in malocclusion that may require professional orthodontic work. In addition to an open bite, which is when both rows of the teeth are directed outwards, there are physical consequences like skin irritation and speech issues.
Moisture from the mouth can cause irritation on the thumb and even lead to infection. While risking infection is one thing, on the other hand, thumb sucking results in peeling of the skin, cracking, bleeding, and ingrown nails. It isn’t good for the skin of the child and infection can even infect the mouth.
Finally, speech issues can arise from thumb sucking. This is when the child sucks their thumb so much that they develop a lisp or have trouble pronouncing certain sounds. When a child has a speech impediment, professional speech therapy may be required to alter their way of speaking. This can also lead to emotional and social issues.
The emotional consequences of thumb sucking can’t be ignored. When the child sucks their thumbs for an extended period, it can be difficult for them to create new coping mechanisms and ways to deal with their emotions. Since thumb sucking is a comforting habit, the child may revert to it when they should be expressing themselves or dealing with their emotions in an introspective way. Kids must form healthy habits of coping emotionally and thumb sucking doesn’t help them do that. It will not just affect their emotions, but their social relationships as well.
In addition to physical and emotional consequences, there are social results of thumb sucking. One example is that the child may be made fun of and ridiculed by their peers. It can make them feel inadequate. Furthermore, the speech issues that result from thumb sucking make it difficult for them to communicate themselves. With coping through thumb sucking, the child doesn’t develop the mechanisms to be able to freely and effectively communicate how they feel. All of these reasons are why you should help your child overcome this bad habit.
How to help them Stop
There are a few different methods to help your child stop the habit of thumb sucking. One is that you can use a thumb guard. This is a product that wraps around the child’s wrist and covers the thumb with a plastic guard, preventing them from sucking it. Another way to prevent thumb sucking is to use thumb sucking nail polish, which is a product that tastes bitter. Children hate the taste of bitterness so it will stop them from wanting to suck their thumbs. Furthermore, there are also thumbsies, which work a lot like thumb guards. They are the cloth alternative that makes it so the child doesn’t get the comfort or enjoyment from thumb sucking.
With so many consequences and ways to help your child stop sucking their thumbs, there is no excuse. It isn’t easy for any parent to get their child to stop, but it is absolutely necessary when it comes to helping them develop new habits and coping mechanisms. If you really can’t get your child to stop, take them to a professional who can determine if they are developing more slowly than they should be. Whatever the solution, helping them stop is imperative to cultivating healthy habits.