Finger sucking remedy?

Index Finger suckingJaxson my almost 5 year old still sucks his thumb. He initially began the sucking with his index finger when he was about 5-7 months old. The sucking actually started unfolding one night that I lost his pacifier. I lost his pacifier for about 3 days and now that I think back to that time, he was actually quite patient and not crying but soon within those 3 days discovered his little index finger on his left hand and did not release it for quite some time.

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I will admit, I have not been the most tenacious about limiting his finger sucking habit and have not been very proactive in finding a solution for him to finally quit it until recently. I’ve just threatened him and clearly that has not worked and I know it’s not the wisest thing to do as a parent. However, he does listen to the threats a little, well, actually he has listened to the little fear that I’ve tried to instill in him if he keeps sucking his finger. I know, I know, instilling any type of fear into your children is not the wisest thing to do either to get your way. What is a mother to do!? Anyway, I say some of the fear worked because one day, about a year ago now, I noticed how pruney and gross his little index finger was becoming so I told him to look at his finger and to notice what was happening to it, that if he kept at it, it will soon fall off. Ouch!

Thumb suckingThe next day, I noticed he was now sucking his thumb instead of his index finger and I asked him in great surprise what that was all about, he responded by showing me his hand and telling me that his index finger was not going to fall off because he was now sucking his thumb instead. They can be so clever these kids; got to love them! I couldn’t help but laugh when he told me that but still warned him that he can’t suck any of his fingers, they could all fall off.

Low and behold, the sucking still continues and for the past few months I’ve threatened to put spices on it, particularly cayenne pepper which is very spicy. He cries every time I tell him that and quickly removes his finger from his mouth. However, I must happily admit, although I’ve been a bit scared to try it, that I finally put that cayenne pepper on his thumb this morning and he shook it all off his finger and complained/cried a little. A few minutes later he must have forgotten about the cayenne pepper or assumed he had shook it all off and went in for the thumb. I heard him crying a little and wiping his tongue with his shirt. I told him “you see, it’s spicy, now come finish your oatmeal it will take the spiciness away.” It was a great way to get him to finish his breakfast and to realize that I’m not just threatening him about the cayenne pepper anymore, I’m going to actually do it until he breaks this horrible habit. Oh, and needless to say, I had to change his shirt before the school bus came as it was all full of saliva and bits and pieces of oatmeal. Got to love being a parent!

To wrap up this story as I’m not sure if the cayenne pepper will suffice, I was doing a little research online last night and found a device called the ThumbGuard or TGuard and it claims to be the thumb/finger sucking solution. I may try this if the cayenne pepper does not resolve this issue within a couple of weeks. If you have ever tried it for your child I would love to hear how it worked out for you guys.



Here is their website and a little YouTube video if you are interested in learning more about it. or you can find it here

Much Love!

3 thoughts on “Finger sucking remedy?

  1. Belmax, as a pediatric dentist I see this problem a lot! There are a few things you could try (in order of what you should try first, to the last resort, if you are desparate):
    1) Rewards: Positive reinforcement for NOT sucking his thumb. For example have a chart each week with a slot for each day. For every day that he doesn’t suck his thumb or fingers, he gets a star for that day on the chart. Then you can dictate a goal that when met he will receive a prize. For example, if he gets 7 stars (= 1 week of not sucking thumb/fingers), he gets a prize like a toy he has been wanting or an activity he has been wanting to do. It is also helpful to remind and encourage him throughout the week and to keep reminding him that he is “so close” to getting that prize.
    2) if rewards doesn’t work, then you can try to get him to stop his thumb by making the act unpleasant. I know you tried cayenne pepper already, but we recommend a product called Mavala, which works quite well and many patients have actually had results from it. Just be careful where you get it, the one that they sell online at Amazon seems to be the effective one, and it seems to be a different product from one sold on other sites. Also you may have to keep applying it because it does tend to wear off (thus lessening its intended effect), so you have to be diligent about using it. Try it out, start out with a small amount on the fingernail, and then see how it works. Here’s a link to the product if you are interested in researching or checking it out:
    3) Physical barriers like sleep shirts, thumb guards- they tend to work really well if he has the habit at night, where he has no control over doing it…
    4) Habit-breaker appliance – So if he can’t stop by positive reinforcement or other methods, you may need to take extreme measures, such as having a fixed (i.e. “glued-in”) habit appliance placed in his mouth by a dentist. They include appliances with features such as a tongue rake or tongue crib. I know it sounds scary, but we have quite a few patients that need this, especially as the habit persists when they get older. As you know, thumbsucking has a negative effect on teeth and their alignment as well as even constricting the growth of the palate. It can cause orthodontic problems such as an open bite, a crossbite (where the upper jaw is more narrow than the lower jaw so the teeth have a backwards overlap, from what is normal). So in the future, you have to correct the habit and THEN will have to fix the teeth.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Actually, not as easy to copy over onto the blog site directly but will copy ovre/share
    to our blog’s FB page. 🙂

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