You may be kicking yourself if you are spending thousands of dollars on orthodontic work to fix the damage caused by thumb-sucking. You may be wondering why you didn't make her stop when you had the chance. Here's why:
For one thing, this is a self-soothing habit that I can empathize with. I, myself, tug and twirl my hair when I'm thinking. Though it's caused some split ends, I've made little effort to curb the habit. Many adults chew gum or bite their nails for the same purpose and never stop.
And this habit is particularly difficult to kick because her thumb goes wherever she goes. While most kids take to a pacifier, she was very clever and chose something that is attached to her body. Other parents can hide the object of oral fixation, but we'd have to put her in a straight jacket to force her to stop cold-turkey.
We're not liberal, anything-goes parents. Nor are we lazy. In fact, we've fought all kinds of battles over the last four years to shape her behavior. I'm still constantly on her case to do her schoolwork, stop saying “mommy,” clean up her toys, take a nap, eat healthy food, and stop pushing her brother. I have no energy left nor do I have the heart to ask her to take her thumb out of her mouth when she's being perfectly calm and happy. For now, I simply remind her every so often that thumb sucking is a bad habit that can bend her teeth.
Her teachers told me that she doesn't do it in school. Maybe she's too embarrassed to do it in front of her friends. This leads me to believe (or at least hope) that she will grow out of this soon. And if not, she may need braces to correct the damage. But try not to be too hard on yourself. Training a child is hard work. Cut yourself some slack. With love,