Stop the Thumb Sucking?

Someone asked a question about pacis and getting rid of them, so it had me thinking about my daughter and her thumb, and that I feel she is never going to drop this habit. So maybe some people have some ideas. She is 5, and for a while she was great about our rule of no sucking her thumb out in public, and majority of the time only at nap/bed time. Recently, like in the past 2 months, it has gotten more frequent. And I tell her no thumb, but she whines and fights me about it. I get, "but mama, I'm tired" or "but mama I need it" or "but mama just this one time" And I usually tell her no, and then she whines and whines. And sometimes I just can't take it, and just drop it, and she will usually put it in. Any ideas?? Sometimes I wish she would have taken the pacifier. Also I am not doing the hot sauce, that would traumatize her. We have tried the nail stuff, did not work.

Also does anyone have any ideas about nail biting, my other daughter does this, how to stop that awful habit??



Practical and Magically: She absolutely hates anything with even a kick in it. She has told me things are spicy that aren't and won't eat them. So, I am afraid using hot sauce would be the worse possible thing I could do to her.

12 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I'm with you on this one!!

    Both of my kids, from very early ages, have been thumb suckers. At some point during the day, you're likely to see them both on the couch watching tv, each with their thumbs in their mouths. LOL

    Yesterday we went to the dentist and she gave my son "the talk" about thumbsucking (again). I'm not sure how much of it he gets, but I'm coaching him. She told us that he really should stop by the time he starts losing teeth (which he hasn't) since that can change the shape of the palate. It's not as bad with the baby teeth because obviously they fall out, but once it starts happening regularly with the permanent teeth, it can actually create a thumb-shaped space in the roof of the mouth.

    Our neighbor girl had this problem and wore (or possibly still wears, not sure) a metal dental device to correct the problem. It sounds and looks awful, and I"m thinking of asking her (she's like 9) to show him what it looks like and tell him about it. That, and I've given him six months - until our next cleaning - to work on it. If he succeeds, he'll get Thomas trains. We've used this reward method with toilet training with lots of success.

    Other than that, telling him that other kids might make fun of him, or that he's a big boy and doesn't really need to suck his thumb anymore. It doesn't help that his 2-year-old sister does, but I tell him that she's still a baby and for now it's okay.

    Don't give in! Show her what can happen if she continues to suck her thumb - take her to the dentist and have a talk about it. Maybe that will help. Hopefully it will for us!

    ETA: I'm LOL about the psychology comment - it's not really the fault of the poster, just that psychiatry takes that approach to thumb sucking - which would you rather have? Supposed low self esteem or ruined teeth, which can create even worse self-esteem? LOL

    Source(s): experience
  • 4 years ago

    Despite all the ideas of putting something bad tasting on the thumb, it won't work. Mittens or gloves don't work either. The loyal thumb sucker can easily get past any of it. Our daughter didn't care about anything on her thumb, she'd just lick it or wash it. Your daughter will stop sucking her thumb when she's ready. Our daughter is going on 9 and still sucks hers at night. I've had many discussions with the Pediatrician over this and they've all said she'll quit when she's ready. I've also talked to the dentist and they said there's no permanent damage to her teeth. In fact, the thumb is natural shape and doesn't push the teeth like a pacifier would. Her thumb is her security and comfort. Don't take it away from her. That could be more harmful than just letting her suck it. Honestly, she'll quit when she's ready. It's usually more of an issue for the parents than the kids because it's what makes them feel good. Good luck!!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There is a thing on the market that is like a glove sort of. It is made for breaking kids of the thumb/finger sucking habit. I forget the name of it though, sorry! You can probably find it online. It doesn't hurt them at all, just makes it impossible to suck their thumb and I would assume after a few weeks she wouldn't need the glove anymore.

    I'm not sure about nail biting- I've always been a "nervous" nail biter. It stopped when I became pregnant but I have a feeling it'll be back.

    We have a part-time (every other weekend) child who sucks her thumb (she's 3.5) and at the same time she rubs her belly button- very un-ladylike when wearing a dress might I add- but we looked into the thumbguard for her because we worry about her teeth, hate it when she sucks her thumb, hate it when she pulls her dress up to rub her bellybutton, and she's just too old for that kind of thing, but we figured unless her mom was on-board with using the thumbguard at their house regularly it would be wasted and frustrating trying to re-train her every other weekend.

    So sadly, we have a part-time 3.5 year old thumbsucker still. The thumbguard looked like a really good idea though.

  • 1 decade ago

    My niece had the thumb sucking habit and my sister got her to stop by dipping her thumb in kool-aid. It sounds kind of dumb, but since her finger would turn green, or purple she was grossed out by it. It beats the hot sauce thing!! good luck!

    oh and about the nail biting habit, theres this thing called no-nail-bitng polish, and it has a bitter cactus extract as its secret ingredient. Anyone can use it and its only $5 at

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    First of all, look at the stress in her life and eliminate it as much as you can. Is there something going on during the day? Is she on a routine. Also, when she begins to suck her thumb if it's during the day offer her a lollipop this will help her keep it out of her mouth or offer her something to drink. Try to get her to communicate with you when she begins to suck her thumb engage her in a game with you, or simply ask her what is wrong and whether you can help. If she is determined to suck anyway, let her. It is her thumb, she knows that and she might need that comfort. I wouldn't fuss at her, carry on like it's a big deal because some children don't grow out of it until around eight believe it or not. My son sucks his two middle fingers and I use to be so worried then I started letting him just do it, and when he doesn't I praise him with a reward "wow I see you haven't sucked your fingers in a while, great job" this encourages them to not do it. So reward her when she doesn't do it and don't discourage her when she does, that will only make her do it more. She is obviously stressed and the last thing she needs is you to make it worse. Oh and finger nail biting, try no bite found in pharmacies.

  • Mrs.C
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    my daughter used to thumb suck too... but on her first visit to the dentist around 2 1/2 years her dentist told me that she already has a sore thumb and pointed her blister and that her teeth will grow crooked... the minute we got back to the car, she stuck out her thumb and knowingly said "mum, no more thumb sucking". And she hasn't since. sometimes a gentle reminder is what we need and a person of authority to explain to her the consequences of her actions might potentially do to her.

  • 1 decade ago

    i work at a preschool and i think a parent put popsicle sticks on her thumb and taped it and the awful taste of the Popsicle sticks may help her stop... also the nail biting you could always paint her nails and tell her if she bits her nails then she is ruruininger pretty nails... my sister tried that with her daughter and it worked.

  • 1 decade ago may have to use hot sauce. As for nail...tell her there are tiny worms that live in her nail and that shes eating them...didn't work for me but i wasnt a girly girl even though i was scared of worms.

    I dont think hot sauce would traumatize fact thats kind of ridiculous.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I read in my psych book that forcing children to stop causes low adolescent self esteem, however, a little bad tasting ointment that is safe for consumtion should work

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Rite aid sells this stuff you can paint on thier finger nails it taste bad. It doesn't make them sick or have bad side effects. you can use it for thum suckers and nail biters.

    Its called thum.

    Source(s): Rite aid
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.