I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old who both suck their thumbs.

Does anyone have any tips to stopping them?

We have tried the bitter nail paint and it has not stopped them.

Thank you, Keith

asked 15 Dec '09, 18:22

Keith's gravatar image

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edited 15 Dec '09, 19:56

Emi's gravatar image


When our children suck their fingers or thumbs we remind them "Don't bite your fingers!" and explain that only food goes in our mouths, not toys, fingers, other kid's fingers or arms, etc.

It is a constant reminder for some kids, and others don't seem to have a problem with it.

What further action you take depends on your parenting style. Praise, consequences, etc will have the same effect on your child that they normally do for other undesired behavior.

Keep in mind that most children do this absentmindedly, though - unless we remind our boys they may not realize they're doing it, and may even try talking with fingers in their mouth!


answered 15 Dec '09, 18:37

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

I have heard and read that thumbsucking is actually quite bad for dental health particularly if it continues after the age of two. The paragraph titled Which is better the pacifier or the thumb from the Safekids.Uk website give some indication of this. But for more advice I would definately recommend speaking to your dentist.

I am by no means an expert, but instinct tells me that perhaps you need to tackle the issue with your older child first and hopefully any positive developments will help your younger child too.

While I agree with both posts that positive encouragement is important, I would recommend speaking to your older child about hygiene issues, particularly during these days with the H1N1 virus, and basically talking to him about why you think he shouldn't suck his thumb without sounding overbearing.

The paragraph "Helpful Products on the Growing kids site also offers some recommendations like wearing a plaster on the thumb, which could even turn out to be a fun deterent for both children at the same time.


answered 15 Dec '09, 19:33

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

It's praise, not adverse stimuli (i.e., bitter nail paint) that will eventually win out when trying to stop a little one from thumb sucking. When possible, try ignoring the thumb sucking. When your child engages in more positive alternate behaviors (or isn't sucking his/hr thumb), that's when to give praise. Appropriately directed positive attention will eventually win out.

Hope this helps.


answered 15 Dec '09, 18:36

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Dr Carey
accept rate: 33%

edited 15 Dec '09, 19:09


You might consider removing the links and signature - it's often considered advertisement (spam) and your answer may be downvoted. Please consider adding those links to your user page ( so people who are interested in your answers can find out more there.

(15 Dec '09, 18:41) Adam Davis

Dr. Carey - FYI the website on your user page is spelled & linked wrong.

(16 Dec '09, 01:12) Sabrina
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Asked: 15 Dec '09, 18:22

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Last updated: 15 Dec '09, 19:56