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How Does Thumb Sucking Lead to Bullying?

Thumb sucking is one of the most common—and natural—childhood behaviors worldwide. Each child has an innate sucking reflex that typically results in them placing their thumbs into their mouths. This form of non-nutritive sucking provides vital security and comfort during the early years of life and isn’t a harmful habit in itself.

However, multiple issues may arise and create consequences for young children when the behavior prolongs past toddlerhood. These potential side effects include social issues, such as peer ridicule and judgment. How does thumb sucking lead to bullying? Let’s examine closely how this oral habit can affect a school-age child.

Thumb Sucking: A Subconscious Coping Strategy

For those in early childhood, thumb sucking is a stress-coping mechanism and a natural part of development. The way a child uniquely copes depends on their age, developmental level, and personal stressors. As the pediatric experts at WebMD acknowledge, growing up is relatively anxiety-provoking. Thumb sucking is an instinctive approach that reduces stress, soothes the mind and body, and provides a sense of control.

However, when a child does not naturally give up or change their method of coping once reaching school age, social problems can occur in the classroom or on the playground. Peer pressure can either curb the sucking habit for good or lead to bouts of harmful bullying.

The Social Impact: Issues To Be Aware Of

How does thumb sucking lead to bullying? According to the International Research Journal of Dentistry, “prolonged digit-sucking habits can have a negative impact on peer acceptance.” Children may tease, judge, or ostracize those who turn to this habit to remedy feelings of stress or boredom at school. Bullies may target prolonged thumb suckers because they perceive these peers as different. This type of verbal ridicule or social isolation may leave a lingering psychological impact on a young victim.

Keep in mind that peer acceptance at an early age plays a fundamental role in healthy growth and development. A lack of positive social relationships and interactions—or direct rejection from peer groups—can create greater externalizing and internalizing problems.

Halting a Prolonged Habit: Intervention Suggestions

Fortunately, the social consequences of thumb sucking are preventable before a child reaches school age. Concerned parents can turn to an array of potential intervention methods. While thumb sucking may be a difficult behavior to stop suddenly, cooperation, encouragement, patience, and consistency can lead to lasting success.

Consider the benefits of addressing a lingering sucking habit with the AeroThumb from TGuard. With the thumb sucking glove acting as a physical barrier, parents can help ensure the long-term health and well-being of their child. As a time-tested device, users find this remedy to be quick and efficient. Learn more about the functional design of this professionally recommended product on our website.


Childhood thumb sucking habit: the burden of a preventable problem” from the International Research Journal of Dentistry

9 Ways to Wean a Child off Thumb Sucking” from WebMD