Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Thumb Sucking

Jack has been sucking his thumb since he was four-months-old. He sucks his thumb a lot too, not just at night, or just when he has a blanket, or anything like that. Just basically at all times, anytime he is bored, watching TV, riding in the car, laying down at all, or idle. I mean, that is a lot of a child's life, really.

I read lots of books about thumb sucking and I have looked at lots of online advice over the six years that he has been doing it. Everything seems to say... wait it out. It will taper off on its own. Teasing and peer pressure will do the job for you, don't worry about it. CLEARLY these people have never met my child.

When he was in 4 year old preschool he had a teacher that made him wash his hands every time he sucked his thumb in school. One day he did it 32 times. I loved this, because it was a great way to frustrate him into submission. He really didn't suck it much that year in school, but that was only three hours of the day. His current teacher that he has had for the last two years is wonderful and has had a thumb sucker herself, so she was used to it. She wanted him to stop, but we were both perplexed about how to do it.

I talked to him about it, of course. He would say "I promise I'll stop mommy" and then have his finger in his mouth exactly two seconds later. It wasn't a defiance thing, it was just a habit. He didn't even think about putting it in his mouth, so of course he couldn't just stop on his own. Something else was going to have to be a factor.

I bought a thumb-guard thing to put on his hand and that lasted less than five minutes. I said "Thumb Out" exactly one million times over the last two years and I pulled his thumb out of his mouth when I saw it in there. None of this helped even in the slightest. I never even noticed a reduction of thumb sucking from anything I tried.

His daddy took him to the dentist over Thanksgiving and they told him that the thumb had to go. Before they had been pretty relaxed about it too, but now, with his new teeth growing in, it was do or die time with the thumb. So, I bought some nasty tasting stuff that you paint on the nail so that a kid will keep those things away from their mouths. I painted it on his nail with trepidation.

He put his thumb in his mouth exactly once after that. I'm serious. It has been two weeks now and he has completely stopped. The first two nights he said it was hard to go to sleep without his thumb, which I expected. That is about all the repercussions we have had. If I had only done this when he was four.

I should have known! Things are not easy with him, so I need to learn to play him at his own games. He hates almost all tastes, so give him a nasty taste and you are home free. Genius.

I promised to get him a pet when he stopped sucking his thumb. Who's the sucker now?