The Edmond Sun

Features

August 17, 2013

Thumb-sucking nothing to worry about

McClatchy — Q: My 5-year-old is going to Kindergarten soon and still sucks her thumb. We’ve tried everything to get her to stop, even a dental appliance, but she won’t give it up. Do you have a solution for us?

A: Before I offer my best “solution,” let’s get a few facts out of the way. First, although thumb-sucking is a form of self-calming and certainly induces a feeling of security in a child, it is not a sign of abnormal insecurity or any other psychological problem. Second, hot sauce, mittens and dental appliances will stop thumb-sucking in some kids, but not in others. In my estimation, thumb-sucking merits no big concern in the first place. Third, most Caucasian children, whether they suck their thumbs or not, will need braces. Fourth, when adults make a big deal about thumb-sucking, it gets worse. Most kids, by age 8 or so, stop on their own.

My daughter, Amy, still sucked her thumb when she went off to Kindergarten. Her teacher quickly pointed out that Amy’s habit was interfering with her participation in class activities, so we required her to carry a “thumb-sucking report card” with her to school every day. It was a 3-by-5-inch index card that simply read “Amy did not suck her thumb in school today.” If true, her teacher signed the card; if not true, she put an X through the statement. Amy brought the card home and lost privileges if she had received a dreaded X.

At home, we identified her room as her “thumb-sucking place” and told her that was the only place she could suck her thumb. If we caught her sucking outside of her room, then she had to go there for 30 minutes.

The result: She quickly stopped sucking her thumb at school and learned to avoid involuntary room confinement at home. I’ve recommended this same approach many times since and I’ve never heard of it failing. Mind you, the object is not to get the child in question to stop; rather, it gets the child to be discreet when it comes to engaging in the habit.

Q: My 4-year-old has a blanket that he carries around with him nearly all the time. It looks horrible, actually, like a stained rag. I’d like him to give it up, but all of our attempts to get him to stop have failed. He actually panics if he can’t find it when he wants it. Should we be concerned?

A: No. Definitely not. Security blankets and other things of that sort are called “transitional objects,” meaning they help children through life transitions, like the transition from being a dependent infant/toddler to being an increasingly independent child. They simply provide needed comfort. Why some kids seem to need them and other kids don’t is anyone’s best guess, but as with thumb-sucking, they are not a sign of underlying psychological problems (but trying to force a child to give up a security blanket may cause psychological problems).

Eventually, as is the case with your son’s security blanket, they fall apart. Just let time take its course. In the meantime, enjoy your son’s innocence. Take it from me, it is fleeting, especially in these days and times.

FAMILY PSYCHOLOGIST John Rosemond answers parents’ questions at www.rosemond.com.

1
Text Only
Features
  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • 6th annual run event in Guthrie to benefit Free to Live

    The sixth annual “The See Spot Run” will take place at 9 a.m. May 10 in downtown Guthrie. This 5K, 10K and 1-mile run/walk event benefits Free to Live, a nonprofit animal sanctuary located Logan County. In the past five years of this event “The See Spot Run” has welcomed more than 3,000 runners and raised $30,000 for the Free to Live Animal Sanctuary.
    “The See Spot Run” will offer all participants the opportunity to compete in either the 5K or 10K event in addition to a 1-mile “Fun Run.” Walkers and runners (both two- and four-legged) are welcome and can register directly at www.theseespotrun.com. Visit www.freetoliveok.com. Donations also can be sent to “The See Spot Run,” P.O. Box 292, Guthrie, 73044.
     

    April 21, 2014

  • Touch-A-Truck event draws families to UCO

    Edmond Electric and Edmond Vehicle Maintenance are co-hosting the Edmond Touch-A-Truck from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 17 in the UCO parking lot off Second Street. Touch-A-Truck is a fundraising event that provides children of all ages with the opportunity to experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firemen, construction workers and many more. Families will have the opportunity for a hands-on exploration of many vehicles such as Edmond’s own fire trucks and police cars, an Edmond Electric bucket truck and even a solid waste truck.
    Admission for the Touch-A-Truck event is a suggested $2 donation with the proceeds going to the Edmond HOPE Center. For more information, contact Edmond Electric at 216-7671 or email michelle.gumaer@edmondok.com.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 20, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crazy spring weather brings frantic pleas

    It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Tulips were blooming, squirrels were all a’skitter, my allergy-prone nose was running ninety-to-nothing, and workmen were in my yard leaning on rakes at $18 an hour. You might know I’d be anxious to remedy that! They were waiting to get started on spreading 60 bags of mulch, which I was belatedly on my way to reserve and pre-pay so they could pick it up and get started. Rush ... rush ... rush, and oh my aching back.

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma History Center new home for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame has a new home at the Oklahoma History Center. Created in 1999, the hall of fame, operated by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, has been housed the past several years at Oklahoma Christian University but there was no available space to display photographs and information on the inductees.

    April 18, 2014