Thumb Suckers Anonymous
At first I would only suck my thumb when I was tired, scared or bored. Then I would stick my thumb in my mouth when I became hungry and excited. It wasn't long before I was hooked.............................."
If I could have an intervention in my living room- this is probably what it would sound like! My daughter, who has just turned 3, has been a pretty avid thumb sucker since birth. For the past month or so I have been gently bugging her about stopping her habit; until her first visit to the dentist. It was then I realized that it has to stop and it has to stop- NOW!
"If she continues this habit, more and more damage will be done to her teeth." The dentist declared to me during her visit (as if I didn't know that already!) "She will most definitely need braces!" [$$$$$] Okay, so maybe I have to push a little bit more to get her to stop!
Aside from the fact that it is causing havoc in her mouth, I constantly think of all the germs that she is ingesting. For instance, not too long ago we went to a local amusement park where they had a petting zoo. Her precious little thumb touched cows, goats and a big fat turkey (to name a few). I don't care what you say- hand sanitizer is not a 100% productive when the thumb is always in the mouth. Washing it in soap and water still doesn't get all the germs out from under the nails. I am not a germ-a-phob, however, her little thumb turns into a prune after she sucks on it. I can just imagine the germs dancing around the California crevices in her thumb and plunging into the depths of her mouth as if they were Michael Phelps trying out for yet another gold medal!
Besides, she is starting preschool in September- Classified: Germ and cold central!
So this mama has to start getting real strict and stern about her addiction. Just like anything else with my kids (or with my classes, when I taught) I created a chart so she can start seeing her progress. I allowed her to chose a prize to work towards, and we work together each day to try to keep the thumb sucking to a minimum (at night it's fair game- I am not waking her up to remind her).
Here is how it works: Everyday she has 10 tokens on her chart where she has 10 chances not to suck her thumb. If I catch her sucking her thumb, she has to take away a token. If she loses more than 10 in a day (which hasn't happened) I will start taking away 1 from each day (so each day after will be down to 9). Her goal is to go 3 days with NO tokens taken away.
How is she doing? We just started. Just like any bad habit- it's tough and not easy to break! She doesn't want to take a token away and works very hard not to! I have big hopes for her- as I too was once a part of Thumb Suckers Anonymous (shhhhhh).
Here is the chart (in PDF) to share! It is in black and white for you to color and decorate (which I believe gets them more excited!) Laminate for extra protection- I provided "You Can Do It!" tokens for you, simply print out page 3 twice. There is room for you to add a small image of your child's favorite character to each one if you prefer. Remember, with anything it is always best done with positive reinforcement- so be encouraging through this transition! When they have to take away a token- remind them gently that they are doing a great job and that it is a hard habit to break! Talk about how they feel! Good luck to you if you are trying to break your child of the same habit!
Again, you can download it here for free!