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Give up Thumb Sucking in time to Start School

A lot of children stop sucking their thumbs naturally between the ages of two and four just on their own, without any help. However, one in five children is still sucking a thumb or finger at the age of five. With most children starting school at the age of four, this can cause problems in the classroom.

Babies tend to exhibit the sucking behaviour most when they are tired, bored or need comforting. All of these states of being are clearly exhibited by a young child who is beginning school. Getting used to a new environment and a long day leaves a young child tired and often with sensory overload. They may not always be fully tuned in to the class activity due to boredom or feeling anxious and in need of some extra emotional support in his or her new environment. All these emotions prompt them to reach for the comforting thumb or finger which has been a refuge for as long as they can remember.

As the first day of school arrives, parents begin to worry because the thumb-sucking can cause social difficulties for the child. Children who suck their thumbs as they start school can be subject to teasing by their peers. The other children their age may even refuse to play with them, or sit next to them because the thumb sucking makes them a “baby.”

“As well teeth and finger damage I never thought that it would affect my daughter socially….until recently she started declining after school cinema shows with her friends. I later discovered it’s because she didn’t want any of her friends to see her secret”

Mum, Helen Rooney

Children can be inherently cruel, zeroing in like a laser on any perceived differences. Children are looking for differences, and an older child sucking their thumb will certainly stand out and for some children, this can impose on a child’s social development. It may seem harsh, but this is how children, of even a very young age, learn the social code of their society. They learn how to act around kids their own age through the teasing and insults of their peers.

Such peer pressure can make the older child stop sucking their thumb soon enough; at least during the day when the child is in school or on the playground. A five-year-old child may however, still continue to suck his or her thumb in their sleep, unconsciously, just as they did when they were a baby. Some older children may manage to stop sucking their thumbs most of the time, but resume the habit when they are under stress. The child is gradually moving away from thumb sucking altogether, but some will need some help, particularly if they are determined to give up to avoid any stigma at school.

Children who suck their thumb can also ‘zone out’ and stop concentrating, retreating into a world away from school. They will stop when prompted but within a few minutes the thumb is back in again. This cycle can take up an awful lot of a Teaching Assistant’s time and mean that a child is missing out on learning time and even some of the fun! Once this has been brought to a parent’s attention, they are often desperate to help their child to stop sucking.

Dr. Lina Kotecha of Glen Dental Pratice says “ After permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. Which in turn affect speech and the bit of the teeth”

A Thumsbie® is a gentle and effective way of stopping your child sucking his or her thumb or fingers. A colourful, fun, fabric glove, which is made to measure, fits neatly over either the thumb or the two middle fingers and helps to break the habit of digit sucking. It can start to work within a few days and so there is still plenty of time to give up before school starts. Thumbsie also supply a reward chart in order to incentivise your child to give up – they can see their progress and you can decide on the reward! Have a look at our shopping page and decide which colourful fabric is going to help your child start school without sucking their thumb.

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School Thumb Sucking Bundle

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Problems with Thumb Sucking

You may be concerned if it is harmful, at what age should they stop or what could be the long-term effects if they don’t stop.
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