If anyone follows our pictures of T, or hangs out with her for a minute, you'll know she's an avid thumb-sucker. We've known for a while that there will be a time when we need to force her to quit her lovely thumb. But in addition to being a comfort to her, along with blankie, the thumb is now quite a habit. She will agree to try and stop sucking while we read her a book at bed time, for example, but the thumb will head to her mouth until I say, "eh?" She's unconscious of her sucking. So we have a challenge ahead of us for sure. It's not just encouraging her to leave a comfort from babyhood, but also to break an addiction. [I use addiction as I've read how this habit can become so addicting that dentists install awful contraptions in older kids' mouths to force them to stop by making the thumb not fit in the mouth via the contraption - I'd rather push T now than face that!]
For a while, T and I had some mini-battles where I'd force her to stop for a bit. I'd take blankie away, or other things. But that was just sad. She was unhappy, and I was unhappy at making her so unhappy. To see her try and be frustrated made me want to figure another way.
I sat her in front of the mirror and showed her my teeth, then hers. The dentist already pointed out that her teeth are being pushed outward slightly. If stopped now, her mouth would go back to normal, but if not, she'll need braces, just like I had. This morning driving her to preschool, she got upset when I pushed her to not suck during the ride. I was strict. This afternoon, when I picked her up, I didn't say anything, feeling I had pushed enough for one day, so when she sucked her thumb in the car, I let it go. But she knew I saw her. And you know what she said? "Mama, I'm pushing my teeth in." Broke my heart.
So I'm going the positive route now. Meaning, I told her I'd buy her a giant present when she stopped sucking her thumb. She didn't come up with what she wanted, but she did say a party, like her birthday party. Maybe the word "present" reminded her, but she went on to recall her tea birthday party, including details about daddy taking her to the park (while mama prepped), then the nap (mama's requirement), how we decorated, then the people at the party. Clearly, her party still resonates with her which thrills me to bits. She not only remembers but cherishes it. That was the goal! Anyhow, now we're talking about throwing her a big party when she stops sucking her thumb...and she seems quite pleased about this.
Instead of scolding her and making her upset, I just have to say, "you want that party?" and she stops (for a bit). Of course she'll point out she's stopped whenever she's not sucking, but I try to explain she needs to stop 3 weeks and then forever, but I'm happy we found a goal that inspires her. Hmmm, gotta pull off another party someday!
hmmn: musings from the far east(erwood)
Big in Japan
Ed the Cat
Anil, the Nigritude Ultramarine
A Full Belly
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