Monday, March 1, 2010


Have you ever seen the movie Thumbsucker? If not, I highly recommend it… It’s about a teenage kid who has a thumbsucking habit. After going through all sorts of different attempts to stop including; hypnosis, Ritalin, and smoking pot he goes to see his dentist. The dentist talks to him and lets him know that thumb sucking is not a medically debilitating problem, that everyone has their own flaws, and nobody has all the answers; in fact, learning to live without having the answers might actually BE the answer. He finally relaxes, accepts himself, flaws and all, and can live a normal life without trying to be someone he isn’t.

I loved this movie. I loved the theme of accepting yourself and your flaws. Yet, I’m determined to make my son stop sucking his thumb. My sweet little guy has been sucking his thumb since before he was born. I actually have an ultrasound picture of him with his thumb in his mouth. At the age of 3 weeks, he figured out how to get that thumb up to his mouth and suck on it when he was sleeping and he instantly slept through the night. What new parent wouldn’t LOVE to have a baby sleep through the night at 3 weeks old? I’ve never had a problem with his thumbsucking and have always lived by the theory that “it’s not like he’s going to go away to college sucking his thumb”. He sucks his thumb when he’s tired, when he’s feeling insecure, and for some reason when we’re in the car. Random people have stopped me in Target (because I always seem to be at Target) and would tell me that I needed to stop his thumbsucking right away! They say thist with such urgency, like national security depends on it… I generally get annoyed with people who decide they should approach me and tell me how to parent my child so those conversations didn’t tend to go very well. Unfortunately, now I DO think that it’s time for him to stop. He is almost 6. He’ll be starting 1st grade next year and shows absolutely NO sign of slowing down on that thumb.

We have started putting bandaids on his thumb as a reminder not to suck it during the day. The second he gets home from school he tears that thing off and sucks his thumb like it’s the most delicious lollipop he has ever had. He said that he doesn’t want to stop sucking his thumb and doesn’t care if the other kids give him a hard time. I care – it kills me to think of him being ostracized for this habit that is really his main source of comfort. I know I should leave it alone and let him stop on his own, but his dentist said that unless he stops by the age of 6 or so, he’s going to start having dental issues. So I’m torn – should I let him figure this out on his own, or help him change the habit now before it becomes even more ingrained? Even if he did go to college sucking his thumb, as long as he is ok with it, shouldn’t I be?


  1. Oh Steph, that is a tough one. I had pacifier girls so it was easy for the Pacifier Fairy to come one night and just take them all away!
    Maybe a reward chart? If he goes for an hour after school without sucking he get's a sticker. Do it all week and earn a trip to the dollar store. Next week he has got to last two hours after school?
    Best of luck!

  2. It's a family legend that I had my beloved pacifier with me at first grade and I hid under the desk during recess to suck on it. I don't recall such things.

    Children here eventually get braces anyway, right? So if there is nothing else you could think that would help, may as well relax...


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