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A Brief Look at the Benefits of Quitting Thumb Sucking

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Thumb sucking is normal in babies and young toddlers. But if the habit persists into the pre-school years, it can lead to dental issues, jaw deformation, blisters, breathing problems, bullying, and speech impediments. This brief look at the benefits of quitting thumb sucking can help parents encourage their children to graduate from the habit.

Is There Anything Good About Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking is a common habit among children, and it can even have some benefits. It helps babies and toddlers comfort themselves when they feel anxious, alleviates boredom, and may signal hunger when a child can’t communicate their needs any other way.

While putting their thumbs and fingers in their mouths can expose children to microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and allergens, it can also have a prophylactic effect. According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, designed in part to test the “hygiene theory” that letting kids get a little dirty when they’re young can boost immunity, thumb sucking in early childhood was found to be beneficial in developing resistance to common allergens.

But that study is no reason to allow your children to put filthy fingers in their mouths, risk infections, and possibly impair their dental and jaw development. There are many benefits to breaking the thumb sucking habit.

A Chance To Discover Alternative Coping Skills

Thumb sucking is often a self-soothing behavior that children use to cope with stress or discomfort. By helping children quit thumb sucking, parents can encourage them to discover alternative coping skills. This can range from using a stress ball, engaging in deep breathing exercises, finding comfort in a favorite toy or blanket, or learning a hobby or craft that requires working with their hands. Developing these new coping mechanisms can be beneficial for their emotional growth and resilience.

Lowers Risk of Needing Braces Later

Prolonged thumb sucking can cause the teeth to become misaligned, leading to the need for braces in the future. By quitting thumb sucking, children can significantly lower their risk of needing orthodontic treatment. It’s important to note that while some children may still require braces due to other factors, quitting thumb sucking can decrease the severity of dental issues they may face.

Pre-Empts Bullying

Unfortunately, older children who continue to suck their thumbs may become targets for bullying. Quitting thumb sucking can prevent this potential source of teasing, contributing to a safer and more comfortable social environment for your child at school and in other social settings.

Builds Self-Confidence

Quitting thumb sucking is no small feat, and doing so can significantly boost a child’s self-confidence. Overcoming this challenge can empower them with a sense of achievement, fostering a positive self-image. This newfound confidence can also spill over into other areas of their life, encouraging them to take on new challenges with enthusiasm.

While thumb sucking may provide temporary comfort for children, the long-term benefits of quitting thumb sucking and avoiding the negative consequences of thumb sucking are considerable. From promoting emotional growth to preventing dental issues and enhancing self-confidence, the decision to help your child quit thumb sucking can be a significant step toward improving your child’s overall well-being.