In the article “The Whys Of Childhood Thumb Sucking”, covered some the reasons children suck their thumbs beyond a year. The most common reasons are categorized as frustrations or habits.
The following are some suggestions parents/caregivers may utilize to help their child deal with thumb sucking if they are under a year in age:
1. Give the child an opportunity to suck if this opportunity was taken from her/him too soon. The child will display sucking activities as signs that weaning was a bit too soon. The parent/caregiver will come to learn that the sucking behavior will begin to decline as their child proceeds through this developmental stage.
2. Examine your own behaviors and attitudes towards the child. As reported in the previous article, some children retain thumb sucking activity due to frustration or stress placed upon them. Young children need to be shown and told they are wanted and loved.
3. Go over your child’s daily schedule. Is it too rigid for her/him? Is the activities age appropriate? Does the child appear frustrated, fearful or angry during certain activities? Do you observe frequent temper outburst during certain activities? More activities that allow her/him opportunities to succeed, play, be with their parent(s)/caregiver(s) or peers tends to reduce fears, frustration and anger that have been found to lead to thumb sucking.
4. Keep a record of the periods (times) when your child does the majority of their thumb sucking. Does the child thumb suck when he/she is tired, nervous, hungry, sleepy? Perhaps your child suck her/his thumb when he/she has been scolded, punished, deprived of a favorite thing. The parent/caregiver might note changes in their own attitude/behavior. Though many adults never consider their behavior influence their child it more often than not does. These might give clues as to what is causing the thumb sucking.
5. Does your child have activities to keep her/him busy? Age appropriate toys, fun activities that capture their interest give them something to do with their hands and minds. When a child’s hands are idle and a thumb goes to her/his mouth it is a signal that the child wants something to do with their hands. Hands that are busy are usually unlikely to find their way to a mouth.