Thumb wars

One, two, three, four. I declare a thumb war.

It’s a battle of epic proportions. Traumatic, in fact, for Little Miss Five.

How do you get a five year old to stop sucking her thumb?

She’s sucked her thumb since she was five months old. I can clearly remember the day I got rid of her dummy and she found her thumb instead.

Little Miss Five was always a sucky baby. She had reflux and, as with many reflux babies, the sucking seemed to soothe the symptoms and settle her.

But it didn’t take long for it to be a habit. I’m not just talking sucking it when she goes to bed. But sucking it ALL THE TIME. Walking around the house. Sucking it. Watching TV. Sucking it. In the car. Sucking it. In the supermarket. Sucking it. Reading books. Sucking it. In bed. Sucking it.

thumb sucking

Truth be told it hasn’t really bothered me until now. In fact I thought it was quite cute. I assumed that she would have grown out of it by the time she reached five. Silly me. Then I assumed she would stop when she went to school. Four months in and she’s still going strong.

I’m only bothered now because I worry about how it will affect her jaw and teeth and, let’s face it, it’s not really that hygienic is it?!

We’ve tried allsorts to encourage her to stop. Gentle reminders. Gentle persuasion. Bribes. Rewards. And finally, the dreaded ‘Stop It’ paint on nail lotion. And yes, it does stop it. But I feel hideous doing it. So it wasn’t consistent and I didn’t do it for long. Particularly as there was an added side effect.

She would not go to sleep. The act of taking away the thumb sucking also took away her ability to relax and fall asleep quickly.

She would go to bed, but would stay awake for AGES making tents in her bed, piling her bed up high with assorted teddies and dolls, getting up to tell me “something really important Mummy”, needing water or the toilet, and so on and on and on and on.

I don’t know what is worse; the thumb sucking drama or the bedtime antics.

Actually, I do. The bedtime antics.

So the ‘Stop It’ thumb paint is now gathering dust on the sideboard. Because when you are already tired from looking after a five month old, and you want just a few minutes to yourself while they sleep, it is easier to pick your battles.

I felt really bad about how much she hated having it put on. It’s easy for us to dismiss her thumb sucking as unnecessary. But it is and has been a huge source of comfort to her for years.

So I guess for now we just wait. Go back to the drawing board and try some of the more gentle and slowly, slowly approaches.

Has anyone else had a thumb sucker? How did your little one kick the habit? x

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