7 Ways To Stop Your Kid From Sucking Their Thumb, Because It's Time

Thumb-sucking has an interesting trajectory when it comes to acceptance by parents and outsiders. When babies are tiny, even still in utero, thumb-sucking is the cutest thing. When babies get a little older and use their thumb to soothe themselves to sleep, it's pretty darn helpful. But there comes a point, usually starting preschool, when your toddler might need some encouragement to stop the habit. These ways to stop your kid from sucking their thumb are good places to start.

For older toddlers who are dependent on thumb-sucking, getting to the root of the anxiety they're soothing or offering praise for not sucking their thumb can be useful tools to get them to stop. However, it's important to note that most children will outgrow the habit on their own and making a big deal of it can sometimes do more harm than good. The Mayo Clinic explained from a dental standpoint that you shouldn't really worry about a child sucking their thumb until their permanent teeth come in. "At this point, thumb sucking might begin to affect the roof of the mouth (palate) or how the teeth line up," the site reported.

The rigour with which your child sucks is also a factor. Damage is "more likely to occur if a child sucks vigorously, as opposed to passively resting the thumb in his or her mouth," according to the Mayo Clinic. If your child sucks aggressively or is still sucking their thumb as a toddler, these tricks might help stop the habit.


Get To The Root Of Their Anxiety

Most toddlers suck their thumbs to self-soothe in moments of anxiety or tiredness. The author of, Runa Mowla-Copley, explained that you should first try to find the root causes of their thumb sucking. She said, "Common reasons for sucking thumbs include anxiety, boredom, tiredness, self-soothing." If you can recognize those triggers, you can offer alternative solutions to help them deal with them.


Talk About It

Most little ones haven't the foggiest idea why their most comforting thing could actually be bad for them. You will probably have to explain to them clearly the consequences of thumb sucking. Likewise, you can explain that adults don't suck their thumbs. WebMd recommended, "Come up with creative ways to help your child understand that he is growing up and one day won't suck his thumb anymore," like showing examples of characters or friends who are older and don't suck their thumbs.


Praise Them For Not Sucking

Offering praise when your child doesn't suck their thumb is a great way to get them to continue that behavior. The Washington Post pointed out that criticizing your child for sucking their thumb can backfire. "Don't harangue your children or shame them, because that could backfire and send them to closet thumb-sucking or other self-soothing methods such as rocking or nail-biting."


Give Gentle Reminders

Many toddlers don't realize they're even sucking their thumb; it's a habit they turn to subconsciously for comfort. The Mayo Clinic suggested, "Don't scold, criticize or ridicule your child. To spare embarrassment in front of others, you might alert your child to the thumb-sucking with a special hand signal or other private cue." Teaching your little on e what a wink looks like could come in handy.


Wrap Their Thumb In A Sock

Sometimes kids simply don't realize they're sucking their thumb, especially if it happens during the night. Wrapping your child's thumb in a sock can potentially help them break the habit. If you've tried some of the other methods, Mouth Healthy recommended that you "remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night."


Offer A Reward

The Washington Post suggested a reward strategy for stopping thumb-sucking: "Give them control of the behavior and offer praise and rewards for success." Rewards can run the gamut from tiny to enormous, depending on how old your child is and how severe the perceived thumb-sucking problem is. A 10-year-old might really respond to the offer of being taken to their dream concert if they quit sucking their thumb. Meanwhile, a toddler could very well earn the reward of an extra story at bedtime.


Sticker Chart

Does your toddler love stickers? Find or make a sticker chart to keep track of your child's progress. They get a sticker for each day they don't suck their thumb. Stocking up on cute stickers is a must for this method. offers a handy sticker reward chart for this purpose.