Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Finger Sucking

Any of you who know our girls, know that they are both finger suckers. They both suck the index and middle fingers. Norah sucks hers with her palm towards the ceiling, while Lucy sucks hers the normal way. Our pediatrician said we don't need to worry about it until she is 5 or 6 or until they start losing teeth. I'm pretty sure I was in Kindergarten when I lost my first tooth (okay, I'm positive, because by my 1st grade pictures I totally had HUGE goofy teeth). Since Norah is 4 1/2, she could be getting close to that.

Anyway, I am looking for a few suggestions. Both girls basically suck fingers at bedtime or when they are sick or hurt. They both have silky blankies that trigger the finger sucking. We told Norah that when she is 4 1/2 (which is next Tues.) we are taking her blankie away. I know this is a process we need to begin, but to me it seem so cruel to take away her comfort item. I know my mom used some nasty tasting stuff (used for nail biters) on my thumb - I guess we could try that. I know some people put mittens/gloves on their child's hand for bedtime - I just don't know if I can do that. Any other suggestions or success stories are welcome.

Also, we have only talked about doing this with Norah, but maybe it would be easier on everyone involved, if we work on it with Lucy, too. I'm sure the younger the child, the easier it would be. After all, children who have pacifiers, often get rid of them before 2. Any thoughts?


Erin said...

I have no advice of experience, but I'll tell you what my sister's doctor told my mom: you can't really "break" them of the habit - they just learn to give it up on their own. Sort of like potty training, that they won't do it until they're ready. The thing about fingers is that you can't take them away. So they'll just learn to "sneak."

Oh, and please don't take away her blankie. That makes me so sad. This from a girl who loves a certain little plush animal who was her comfort item, with a sister who has one, too. Granted, we don't sleep with them or snuggle them anymore, but we do love them very much. I was always so glad no one ever told us we were "too big." Comfort items are exactly that - comforting. What if she only gets it in her bed at night? Not even rest time?

So my sister's doctor's advice: Just save your money for braces! :)

Sorry to sort of rain on your parade there; I think you're a great mom! Those are just a few things I'm sort of passionate about.

Dan and Amanda said...

Maddy had a blanket and was an avid thumb sucker. In Kindergarten the dentist sent us to the Orthodontist and he said she Really needed to stop! It was causing a lot of problems in her mouth. They suggested mittens at night. We allowed her to keep the blanket, but she wore the mittens every night for about a month and a half. She put a sticker on her chart each successful night and was rewarded when the thumb sucking completely stopped. Now, Maddy is very stubborn and strong-willed and I was skeptical, but it worked like a charm!!! Good luck. Oh, and we duct taped the mittens onto her hands b/c w/o knowing it she would take them off in her sleep.

heather said...

I think I'd just bite the bullet and try and break Lucy of the habit at the same time like you said. Maybe play it up like they have to get ready to be big sisters and since Lucy's not the "baby" anymore she can be a big girl right along with Norah and learn how to or practice not sucking on her fingers.

I don't know if I'd take away the blankets too though. I agree with Erin. I'm big on comfort items and I know some people view them as a sort of crutch or dependency, but I just think kids need the comfort the consistency and the familiarity of something that's "theirs" and that they're specially attached to. I know it seems the blankies trigger the sucking, and I'm sure that is the case, but I think breaking the finger habit would be the same either way with or without the blankets and if you just leave them with the blankets they at least have some of the comfort to fall back on while they're trying to deal with learning new ways to fall asleep and cope with things.
I don't know what I'd do as far as a plan for the fingers. I'd probably go for the mittens too. But I'd keep the blankies and just confine them to a bedtime/travel thing.
Savannah still has her blanket and her lammie she's had her whole five and half years of life. She's gone through phases where she's been more attached to it than not and there's been times when we've had to "ground" her blanket to her bed, but these days it's no big deal. She rarely ever brings it out of her room any more.

Alison said...

I remember the nasty stuff on my thumb. It didn't work, I still sucked my thumb. I think you broke the habit first. I know that I had my braces on when I finally stopped.

One of the girl's in Ryan's room has been promised a puppy when she stops sucking her thumb. I know that the puppy won't work for you, but is there something else that could be the final "prize"?

Ryan has been telling his teachers no. We have started a sticker chart, when he gets 10 stickers, we will go bowling again. I thought I would do 10 stickers two or three times and then move up to 15 stickers. He asks to go bowling every morning, so it is something that I know will work with him. Is there something like that for Norah?

I agree with Heather that it might be easy to try and break both of them of the habit now versus one at a time.

lisa said...

I am 31 yr old mother of three girls 8, 4, and 3. The two oldest are thumbsuckers. I myself used to suck my ring finger and middle finger and scratch material. I stopped sucking my fingers on my own at 11 yrs old because my parents told me I looked funny. I still scratch material on pillowcases and most of my dress shirts for my job uniform. Smile!It is not new or terrible. Smile!