Why Do Children Thumb Suck
What Comforts a Child?
Nothing is as heartrending as the cry of a small child. Parents will at some point do anything to comfort their child even when it goes against their best instincts. Almost all parents have the tale of the late night hunt for the tossed pacifier a toddler bravely sacrificed to “being a big boy” only a few hours earlier. In that tough grey area between helping our child grow up and pushing them to mature too quickly, it’s tough for Moms and Dads to know what to do. In the busy rush of days, we notice those habits like thumb sucking, but let the matter go often until it has reached a point of concern. The question that almost all parents of a child who sucks their thumb wonder is whether the little person can hurt himself or herself through this habit. Are there any dangers associated with a child sucking on a thumb or a few fingers after infancy? To make this matter more complicated for parents there is often conflicting information from experts.
The difference in opinions might come from what various experts actually see as the long-term effects of thumb sucking, and what might not be a part of their expertise. For a family doctor, thumb sucking might not seem like an issue that will affect a child’s health long-term while a dentist might disagree. A dentist seeing the possibility of jaw and teeth placement problems in the future has a different prospective.
For mothers and fathers however, there is an expert opinion of a different kind. Every parent is a specialist in the behavior of his or her child. A parent’s instinct about when a situation is has gone on too long is frequently the one that should be trusted. The question left is what does the child need. The answer goes right back to the reasons this particular little person has this habit.
From the start of infancy, the action of sucking is soothing. Human being’s have this inborn trait for a good reason. One of the most amazing moments after childbirth is seeing this tiny being know in the very first few hours of his or her life how to find nourishment. Along with the practical aspect of this instinct, it also brings the baby a measure of comfort when the infant is tired, uncomfortable, or simply needs reassurance.
As a toddler, the child will hold on to this behavior as a carry over of infancy. Whatever the discomfort whether it’s a matter of feeling hungry, tired, anxious, or perhaps even bored the thumb is always right there to bring comfort. For some children this is an occasional sign of distress or fatigue, while for others it is an almost constant behavior.
When a child is constantly sucking his or her thumb, or it is a nighttime habit that could risk a dental problem at some point then parents sometimes look for ways to discourage the behavior. At the toddler stage between a year and three years of age, it can be best to tackle problem much like pottery training. A gradual progression of change, can sometime work along with coaching and positive re-enforcement from the parents.
There are aids for making the transition the least disturbing for both the child and the parents available. Control It! is often recommended as a natural, safe method for anyone one who is trying to break the habit of thumb sucking or nail biting. Products such as this, which gently make the thumb less tempting help the child, lose the habit even during sleep. The good news for parents is that once this behavior is discontinued it usually disappears for good.Tweet