Friday, August 17, 2012

Parenting Tips: Nail Biting & Thumb Sucking

By Tiffany Rudd
Cameron started sucking his thumb when he was a tiny. In fact, we have an ultrasound picture that shows he started before he was even born! It was pretty cute and really didn't bother me when he was a baby. However, as he got older and continued to suck his thumb it started to drive me crazy. I worried about the effect his thumb sucking would have on his teeth and his speech, but most of all the germaphobe in me was grossed out by his dirty thumb always being in his mouth. He was sick a lot and I was positive it was because every germ in Walmart or on the McDonald's PlayPlace went right into his mouth. Ugh. I still shudder just thinking about it.

So, when he turned 3, I decided it was time to help him quit this bad habit. First we bought the gross tasting nail polish. He didn't like it, but he just continued to suck until the bad taste went away. We tried a little tobacco on the tip of his finger, and he loved it! I had to get rid of the bottle because he started requesting it. I was even excited when we went to Utah on vacation and his thumb cracked and bled because of the dry climate. We covered it with Neosporin and a bandage and he didn't suck his thumb for two weeks. Unfortunately, once we got home and it healed it went right back into his mouth.

Anyway, the point is, we tried everything! Finally, one day in my search for a solution I found a Berenstain Bears book call The Bad Habit. In the book Sister Bear bites her nails. So, they come up with a plan to help her stop. At the beginning of each day they put 10 pennies in a jar. Each time Sister bites her nails, they take a penny out. Any pennies left at the end of the day she gets to keep.
So, I read the book with Cameron and we started his own jar of pennies. Each time he sucked his thumb a penny came out of the jar. Pretty soon he had earned enough pennies to trade for a quarter to buy a gum ball at the grocery store. Then, he had earned a dollar to ride the ferris wheel at the mall. Within a month he had saved enough for a new toy (with a little help from dad) and he had completely stopped sucking his thumb!

I'm convinced there is a Berenstain Bears book to solve any problem. :)

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  1. Thank you! My almost 5 year old still sucks her thumb and is so stubborn! If I want her to do somethIng she fights it even more. So I will have to try this. I think the money may actually motivate her!

    1. You're welcome! I hope it works for you! :)

  2. Weston loves his thumb too! He usually has it only for bed but now when he watches Tv I see it come out, along with his blankie. I will need to remember this!! :)


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