Thumb sucking or using a dummy (pacifier) is a common aspect of child behaviour, and it can seem completely natural for a child to stick their thumb in their mouth, or use a dummy for a substitute. However thumb sucking is usually a sign that your child has some stored feelings that they haven’t expressed, so a listening approach can be really effective.
In Patty Wipfler’s article, ‘no more thumb, no more pacifier‘ she says, With knots of uncomfortable feelings rankling on the inside, their eyes glaze over, and they stop exploring their world… With their thumb or pacifier engaged, they mark time, waiting passively for something to change. A child’s mind is on idle while she sucks her thumb or pacifier. Doctors become concerned about thumb sucking because it can alter the structure of the child’s mouth over time. And pacifiers have been linked to ear infections by some studies. But I think the best reason to decide to help a child with a habit of thumb sucking or pacifier use is to help her regain her enthusiasm for life.
Here’s a giggle parenting game to help.
My daughter initiates lots of games where we roleplay with baby hands and mummy hands. So one day when she was sucking her thumb, I exclaimed in the voice of one of the mummy hands, ”Baby handy! Baby handy! A giant is eating your thumb, quick let me rescue you.”
Then one of the mummy hands would gently pull the baby hand out of her mouth. The mummy hand would say, ”phew! I saved you!” I would repeat this game, making a big deal out of saving the baby hand from the giant. Sometimes one of the mummy hands would very gently tug at her nose or chin. Then the other mummy hand would say, ”hang on mummy handy, that’s not the right, that’s not baby handy!” One time the mummy handy pulled off one of my daughter’s socks instead of pulling the baby hand out of her mouth. My daughter laughed and laughed at these mistakes, and pretty soon voluntarily took her thumb out of her mouth.
So if you’re concerned about thumb sucking, check out Patty Wipfler’s article, and try some giggle parenting. No lectures about teeth or dentists required!
Find our more about Giggle Parenting in my introductory post here.