Quitting Cold Turkey — Thumb-Sucking

So, as I’ve blogged before, youngest is my one & only thumb sucker. As we’ve noticed his baby teeth bulging out somewhat and how the cuteness factor (for others) of thumb-sucking decreases with increased age, dh & I have discussed our options.

We purchased some Thumb Guards last summer and actually tried them briefly before he turned three years old. (The TG people say not to use them with kids under three because they are more likely to switch to finger-sucking or be able to get out of the guards themselves.) It wasn’t the right time to try them.

Fast forward to last month when we were trying to potty train the little guy. (I know, he should already be trained since he’s three. He’s not. Deal with it!) After a couple of days of almost constant success, he decided he really didn’t want the hassle of using the facilities.

We gave him a choice– he could either continue wearing his Big Boy pants and use the toilet when he needed to “go” OR he could go back to diapers but he had to stop sucking his thumb. Surprisingly, he chose to take on his love affair with both thumbs.

He was amazingly willing to put on the Thumb Guards the first several days. We added a Band-Aid at the base of each thumb where the guard chaffed his skin.

On the fourth day, his lack-of-quality-sleep (due to constantly waking up & finding that he couldn’t get comfort sucking in) created a frazzled little boy who cried and struck out with his fists when he couldn’t pull off the Thumb Guards.

We were able to get through this — mostly by enforcing naps which he’d almost ‘grown out of’ and distraction (books, blocks, Cuisenaire rods, sword play, puzzles, trucks, & Play-Doh).

He occasionally would put one of his other fingers in his mouth and his Thumb Guards took on a chew toy-look by the end of the first week, but he didn’t seem to be fighting the process much.

He has had a few setbacks over the last month. Around week three, he was able to pull off the guards before taking a much-needed afternoon nap. I found him asleep with the thumb firmly planted in his mouth. I was able to replace the guard more securely without waking him.

A few days ago, dh took off the guards in the morning for their routine cleaning. I forgot to put them back on after ds#2’s “airing out” time. Dh & I talked about it and based on how ds#2 wasn’t putting his thumb in his mouth, we decided to leave them off until either naptime or bedtime.

It ended up being bedtime. DS didn’t fuss when we placed them back on at bedtime. In the morning, we snipped them off and he went on with his day. This is our new practice.

Tonight, ds was tired a little earlier than usual. He started yawning after I got him ready for bed. Before I could brush his teeth and put him down, I caught him with a slightly pruney-looking thumb. I gently reminded him that we aren’t sucking our thumbs anymore and he held them out to get the Guards put on.

I ordered another 60 strips so we can continue with ‘night guarding’ for as long as we think it is necessary. I would hate to have him go through all this again because he starts backsliding.

Progress!

Update:  It has been just over a month since I posted this. We had a few nights of struggle when DS didn’t want the thumb guards on. I taped a long sock over each hand for those nights, but they were always off in the morning. Soon after, though, he went back to the thumb guards. He now does one or two nights without the guards with one night on, just to make sure he doesn’t slip back into old habits. When peeking in on him during a rare afternoon nap recently, it was wonderful to see that neither thumb was in his mouth.

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About doucementgently

I'm a thirty-something female with loads of kids, a great husband, and lots of things on my mind. I plan on blogging about homeschooling, personal finance, the economy in the U.S., politics, family life, and the things my children do.
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One Response to Quitting Cold Turkey — Thumb-Sucking

  1. David says:

    Dear Mom of 5,
    I saw that your tguards are getting a bit chewed up. Feel free to call us – we would be happy to replace any worn or chewed up parts with brand new ones, free of charge!
    Your success (along with all of the other families trying to stop this harmful habit) is our first concern and primary objective.
    Regards!

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