July 14, 2009

(Almost) All Thumbs


It has never bothered me that three of my daughters are dedicated thumb suckers. For whatever reason, Roo has never ever been interested in sucking her thumb, but her sisters pop their thumbs in their mouths at the first sign of stress or sleepiness. My thought has always been "well, they've found a way to self-soothe." I've never bought into the notion that they're messing up their teeth, since these teeth will eventually fall out. Plus, Hubby and I both needed braces and know all four of our girls will, too. Even my most recent edition of Parents magazine quoted a doctor who said thumb sucking is a natural reflex which most children will give up before age four.
So, here we are approaching our 4th birthday and our dentist says it's time to ditch the thumbs. Why? It's actually pretty interesting. According to our dentist, the way your tongue sits in your mouth affects your palette. As a child, when your palette is still developing, your tongue helps spread the roof of your mouth. When a child sucks her thumb, she's affecting where her tongue sits in her mouth and her palette may not spread/develop the way it should. Considering two of my daughters have "severe crowding" of their teeth, well, they need those palettes to spread. (Do you remember the kids in school who talked about having to wear a "bridge"? It was some medieval contraption in the roof of their mouth involving a key. Every night they had to turn the key to spread their palette. Yeah, not something I really want my girls to suffer through, although Hubby claims it didn't hurt.)
Our dentist appointment was last week. Since then I've really been trying to work with Cakes, Tortilla and Sue-Sue to encourage them to give up the thumb. It's easier said than done. The first day they were really good about taking their thumbs out of their mouth with a gentle reminder. By the time I put them to bed, though, you could tell what a challenge the day had been. As soon as they closed their eyes, their thumbs were firmly positioned in their mouths. The other day Cakes was sitting next to me on the couch. When I casually reminded her to take her thumb out of her mouth she moved. I found her sitting on the floor next to the couch, covertly sucking her thumb. Great, now I've created "closet thumb suckers."
It's not going to be an easy habit to break. We'll keep working on it and eventually we'll be a thumb-free family.

12 comments:

Sadia said...

My sister was a devoted finger sucker. (Index finger, right hand.) We encouraged her to switch to the thumb at age 2, thinking that it would be a way to wean her off her finger. She proceeded to suck her thumb for another 3 years!

Quadmama said...

So what you're saying is this could be a long transition....

Stephanie B said...

My sister couldn't be cured of thumbsucking until she was eight. And it took laundry soap to do it.

Quadmama said...

Interesting... the doctor in "Parents" magazine said not to use fingernail polish or anything bad tasting, so I guess I'll give it a go before resorting to laundry soap.

newlyweds said...

Visiting from MoM, thanks for the comment on my interview. Sorry I don't have much help on the topic, my boys are pacifier lovers, and we are trying to figure out a way to ditch those, lol!

MaryAnne said...

So far we don't have any thumb suckers (sometimes I wish we did, it's such a nice way for them to self-soothe), but I had a cousin who sucked her thumb until she was 12 or 13. I think they tried just about everything to get her to stop before then, I'm not sure what worked in the end other than maybe growing up?

Good luck...

Quadmama said...

I thought maybe when they started preschool they would stop, since most kids don't openly suck their thumbs. BUT... I was observing the class one day and there was Tortilla sitting in the circle activity sucking away because she was tired. sigh

Roman and Tiffany said...

Good Luck! My cousin sucked her thumb until she was 10! Her pallete was so messed up now that she is 13 she is going through very painful dental work to correct all of her problems. Hopefully your girls will quit soon. We are in the process of breaking the binky habit. One more week and they are going away for good!

Quadmama said...

Why does everyone keep telling me horror stories about people who sucked their thumbs until they were 13?? LOL Good luck saying bye bye binky.

Kim said...

All four of my girls were/are thumbsuckers. The first two started out with pacifiers (that the hospital stuck in their mouths to stimulate the sucking response), and when I took them away they started sucking their thumbs. One of my twin girls started sucking her thumb at TWO WEEKS and the other started at 11 months of age; they just turned 3 and are still sucking their thumbs, mostly when they are tired.

There's no reason for sharing this. I just like to jump in the conversation and add nothing. But if you figure out how to break their habit, you better write a post with pictures, graphs, and a patented technique.

Brooke said...

Yeah really, what's with the horror stories?! Mo was a nukie addict and Curly would just rather eat bugs and carpet fuzz - does that make you feel any better?

Quadmama said...

Kim... yep, if I figure out how to do this I will have to patent it. I will have hit a gold mine!!! And Brooke, honestly, the bugs and carpet fuzz addiction makes me fell a teensey bit better.

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