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How do I stop my child from thumb-sucking?

Most children will stop sucking their thumb by the time schooling starts, so the best thing to do before then is to just ignore it. The habit only becomes a concern if it continues after age 5 or if it alters the shape of your child’s mouth. Harsh words or punishment won’t make your child stop. Instead, try these methods:

  • Use praise and rewards when your child doesn’t suck his or her thumb.
  • Remind your child not to suck on his or her fingers, especially during the day.
  • Thumb-sucking is often used to relieve boredom. Distract your child by keeping his or her hands busy with activities like coloring.
  • If you see a change in your child’s palate or how teeth are coming in, talk with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about treatment options.