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Young children suck on pacifiers, thumbs, and fingers to soothe themselves, help themselves fall asleep, and to learn about the world. Thumb sucking helps young children feel happy and secure. Children usually stop sucking their thumbs around two to four years old, or when their permanent teeth begin to erupt.

If your child continues to suck their thumb after their permanent teeth come in, alignment issues may arise. Thumb sucking can also cause issues with the growth of the mouth. If your child is having a hard time breaking the habit, you can help them wean off of their thumb. Here are some tips to help your child:

– Do not confront your child about thumb sucking in a negative manner. Praise him or her when they are not sucking his or her thumb instead of criticizing.

– Talk to your child about thumb sucking and tell him or her that you are there to help when they are ready to stop.

– Do not keep your child from sucking their thumb or fingers when they hurt themselves. Thumb sucking is a source of comfort.

– Explain to your child that sucking his or her thumb is only a night time or nap time activity. Encourage your child to only suck his or her thumb at these times and not in public.

– Help your child realize when they are sucking their thumb. Say, “Do you realize that you are sucking your thumb right now?” Find another way to help your child feel secure, like a blanket or a toy.

– Do not put a glove or mitten on the hand to try to keep your child from sucking their thumb. This will only frustrate them and make them want to suck their thumb more.

If you need additional help with weaning your child off of sucking their thumb, contact Orem Pediatric Dentistry today. Our dentist in Orem, Utah, Dr. R. Bruce Howell, is happy to help!