succion pouce

Does your child suck his thumb? No reason to panic! Here, you will find useful information concerning this dreaded habit as well as tips and tricks to make it stop.
First and foremost it is important to know that the majority of children will perform thumb sucking at one time or another as part of their normal developmental stage. Most of the time this habit gradually subsides over time. There are certain variables to consider when worrying about thumb sucking, namely: the frequency and the intensity. If your child sucks his thumb intensely and for at least 6 hours per day, we could expect some kind of damage to the oral structures (palate, teeth, articulation). It is therefore important to intervene as soon as possible.
A good intervention plan which targets and focuses around stopping thumb sucking at the ages of 3 – 4 will guarantee that your child retains no long lasting after effects. Early prevention pays off in the long run. 
But, where do we start?
First off, we must understand and identify the circumstances that encourages and stimulates your child to suck his thumb. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
1. When does your child suck his thumb intensely?
2. Where does your child usually suck his thumb? Is there a recurring place or environment?
3. How long does your child generally suck his thumb for? Can you say that he does so for at least 6 hours a day in total?
4. Why does your child suck his thumb? (calming, distraction, concentration or reassurance)
5. Does your child use an associated object such as a pencil, or a teddy bear?
Once the circumstances surrounding this habit are understood, it is possible to identify an underlying emotion related to it. The most common emotions related to thumb sucking are sadness, stress, frustration, boredom, and worry.
If your child is aware of the habit, it is important to be reassuring and to explain the underlying cause (the identified emotion). It is crucial to motivate them to stop since their motivation will be essential to stopping this habit after the age of 4.

Here are some examples of motivation for older child:

succion pouce 41) Explain the impact thumb sucking is having on his or her teeth. Use pictures that you can find on the Internet to support your claim.

2) Explain the addiction process associated with this habit. Thumb sucking blocks certain neurotransmitters and stimulates the liberation of endorphins that essentially calms your child. A scientific and professional explanation allows for older children to feel understood, and helps them understand why it is so difficult for them to stop.

Spiderman3) Encourage the idea of becoming older. You can use known icons such as Spiderman or princesses and point to the fact that they do not suck their thumbs and that they have nice teeth.

4) Find a substitute for the habit. For example buy a new toy that will allow your child to find comfort in. You can also offer to massage them during stressful periods where they would normally suck their thumb to help them relax.

5) Use a reinforcement calendar with rewards. For example, if we manage not to suck on our thumb for 4 out of 7 days while watching television we will go and rent a movie.

6) Create a reminder or memory aide: a comfortable elastic bandage on the finger, different coloured nail polish, or a smiley face drawn on the thumb.

If your child is younger and does not wish to stop on his own it is still possible to intervene. Here are some basic ideas:

1) As a bedtime ritual, recite a funny song about thumb sucking. This French song can inspire you: Toc toc toc Monsieur Pouce. Click here to watch on Youtube!

féliciter2) Congratulate specific moments where your child is not sucking on his thumb. For example you could say ‘Wow, nice job! I noticed you did not suck on your thumb once during the entire car ride. I am really proud of you!’

3) Change the environment where thumb sucking occurs the most. For example, if your child persistently sucks his thumb on a particular couch, change the couches location so that the environment, which promoted thumb sucking, is altered.

4) If your child uses an associated object (teddy bear, rug, etc.) place it in a visible location inside the house. However, make sure that that is unreachable. This object must be placed for at least a year in order to prevent a relapse.

5) Create an activity box, which occupies your child’s hands. He will be able to turn towards this box when he feels the urge to suck his thumb. For example, bracelets made of colourful rubber bans, creative strings or number painting can be placed in this box.

Keep in mind that the feeling of guilt is rapidly at play even amongst young children. It is therefore imperative to positively reinforce your child and to constantly reassure him that you understand why he sucks his thumb but that together you will succeed, and that he will be able to stop.