Thumb sucking

When is the right time to quit thumb sucking?

Breaking the thumb or finger sucking habit is different with each child depending on motivation and age.  There is no reason why you have to jump into stopping the habit immediately if your child is 3 or 4 and under.  Although dentists agree the age to quit thumb sucking is as soon as possible and as early as age two is ideal, sometimes life events and special situations necessitate postponing.  It is okay if you have to wait, but do not let the habit continue beyond age 5.

If you haven’t already, talk to your pediatric dentist about the ideal age to breaking the habit, and do your own research about thumb sucking consequences.  Talk to your child (and have the dentist talk to your child) about this early childhood behavior becoming a habit and the dental, speech and social issues the habit can cause if it goes on too long.  It does get harder for you, the parent, to control the habit the older the child gets.

If you give your child some time to “warm up” to breaking the habit, taking his or her age into consideration and make a plan to stop the habit together, your success will be high. Typically if the child has decided to try and quit, there is a positive boost to their self-esteem and self-confidence as a result once they do.  This confidence lasts a lifetime. 

Try finding out if your child has an awareness about his or her habit.  Does your child even know that she/he is doing it? Has he/she been thumbsucking for just a short time and is this a longstanding engrained habit? See how far you can go with a bit of motivation and a small reward.  Empower yourself with knowledge, get serious, and you’ll know the time to quit is as soon as your child and you are ready.