As adults, often many forget that the easiest ways to solve problems are to make it fun. I was reminded of this as I was disturbed by a young couple, frustrated with their child at a restaurant, late last week. The young child was ridiculed by his father, then chided by his mother. It was a sad sound, that table, in midday.
‘Why’ Young Children Chewing Their Thumb
Call it an oral fixation, or self-pacifying behavior. This is behavior the child usually develops during its time as an infant. Some specialists say that one-in-three children do this before it’s the first birthday. The relief generated from the gums during the time of teething is immense, one only needs to look at the pacifier market at any large store. In absence of a pacifier, the thumb usually does the trick.
Over the course of time, while this looks adorable by many people’s standards, there may be other reasons why it is being performed. This placebo is effective at getting them to develop a standard operating procedure in their day. It is normal, and while many consider it a ‘bad habit’, it’s often recommended to not be commented on until after the child turns five. Biting nails, sucking on a thumb or hair; these are developed and abandoned by the majority of children, the constructs which they form, falling by the wayside.
What if My Child Doesn’t Stop Chewing Their Thumb
After the age of five, most children have stopped sucking their thumb. One in five, according to Forrest Umberger, Ph.D., will still entertain this. It’s at this point where school begins, and thus, peers negatively influencing the ‘thumb-sucking.’ Simple bus-ride antics and often the bruised ego will be spotted at home. Back to the statement about making the problem-solving ‘fun’, it cannot be stressed enough. The adage, “You attract more flies with honey, than vinegar,” is especially true with children and shaping behavior and mental constructs.
The easiest way to go down this path is to offer excessive amounts of encouragement. A chart of what days the child is spied upon, NOT sucking on his thumb, is one way to go at this. A nice little reward at the end of the week, plus something more substantial at the end of the month, can work wonders. Another way is to ignore poor behavior! The attention from good or bad behavior could be indicative of a larger problem, so structuring a great set of behaviors within the positive framework is a massive way to reinforce just how the child should behave after a certain age. Most children value the opinion of their parents and peers.
Also, some medicines or substances can offer a bitter taste in one’s mouth. While the child is asleep or coating the affected oral item with such a liquid can be one sure-fire way to curb the habit. Coping strategies paired with this, and methods discussed above should be more than enough to help parents molding the behavior of their young one. Surely, the salad dressing would not have left such a bitter taste in my mouth, had I not had the stereo of Negative Ninnies sitting behind me with Cinnamon Junior.