August 5, 2013

Treatment Tips: Increase your chances of breaking the thumb or finger sucking habit

No two children are alike, and every child will have a different experience as they learn to live without thumb sucking. However, over the years, we have noticed that some treatments are more effective than others. We have compiled a list of tips which, when used with TGuard, vastly improve your chances of stopping the thumb sucking or finger sucking habit, once and for all.

They are:

1. Consistency.

Do not let the child engage in thumb or finger sucking for a single moment after you begin treatment. The child must go 30 days without any thumb or finger sucking. This means many things – if you have a thumb sucker, make sure to wear both appliances (one on each hand), because often children switch from one hand to the other. If your child is able to access any thumb during treatment, you may have to reset the treatment calendar. Also, if you decide to only wear the appliance for a few hours each day, and the child sucks during the other hours of the day, you will not have an effective treatment. The same applies to a child who can remove the appliance – this is not conducive to a proper treatment and must be addressed.

We recommend using TGuards with a tighter setting initially; sometimes the child can remove the appliance in the middle of the night, suck their thumbs, and put it back on in the morning, if the device is fitted too loosely.

2. Start on a weekend.

The first few days will be the hardest and will require the most attention from you. The child may be crankier or fidgety, especially if they are bored. Keep them busy! Be firm with them; this period only happens once and if you cave in to their requests, you will have to start over and eventually repeat it again anyways. Try reading them a story at bedtime, or other activities to distract them until they fall asleep.

For the first few days, we recommend checking on your child at night, to see if they are wearing the appliances during bedtime and while sleeping.

3. Positive reinforcements / motivators. 

Sit down with your child before the treatment, and do whatever you can to get them on board with the treatment. Explain to them that it might not be easy, but there are rewards at the end, whether its an actual treat such as a toy from the store, or earning freedom from a bad habit and becoming a “big kid”. Use the included calendar! Some parents like to give small gifts, one for each day, while others do one big one at the end. Find what works and use it!

4. Avoid external stress.

Children engage in thumb sucking to relax, self-soothe, and cope with stress. Any kind of stressful activity, such as starting school, meeting strangers, moving houses, etc, may trigger the habit and undo any previous progress made during treatment. Keep the child calm as long as you can during and after treatment!

5. Avoid other thumb / finger suckers. 

Try to avoid any contact your child may have with peers or siblings who suck their thumbs – children often mimic those whom they look up to. Though the internal desire to suck their thumbs may disappear, a child may begin again simply to fit in, and then the habit can be “remembered” and can manifest itself again once more. If you have thumb or finger sucking siblings, we recommend treating them at the same time as well.

 

This page is based on the TGuard Treatment Coach series of informative and timely tips designed to help you break the habit, after you have purchased the kit.

Related articles in this series: What to Expect During Treatment, What about Chewing?