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Thumbs In!

One dad’s inner turmoil about his daughter’s self-soothing habit.

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There is a power struggle going on in my house. We’re deep in a battle of stubbornness and unwillingness to budge by both parties. It’s two concerned parents versus a strong-minded three-year-old girl, who is putting her foot down and refusing to stop sucking her thumb.

At every glance toward my daughter, I spy four pristine fingers rolled into a tight little fist with the fifth little piggy quietly hidden away between two puckered, chapped lips. We’re trying like crazy to get her to stop suckling that pruned-up digit. But, with every request to stop, that poor little thumb just goes farther and farther in.

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I guess I don’t really get it. I was never a thumb sucker. I don’t see the enjoyment in it—and don’t think I haven’t snuck off into my basement and tried it. Try explaining that to your wife when she walks in on you parked on the couch binging Ozark on Netflix, bowl of popcorn at your side, and a thumb knuckles-deep in your mouth.

A quick internet search on the subject will freak any parent out. You’ll come across study after study about how thumb sucking can make your child’s teeth grow totally out of whack, or how their speech could be affected, or in some extreme cases, that they can actually put a hole in the roof of their mouth! WHAT!? Thanks, WebMD for taking things from bad to worse.

We’ve tried all the advice from other parents on how to curtail this bad habit. From praising with words of encouragement when she’s not doing it, to having little rewards available for the rare times she has two hands available for full use. Hershey’s Kisses rewards only work about 10 percent of the time, then it’s back to full-on hand in face.

So, for the time being we’re going to let her “win” and let this go a few more months. We’ll see if she naturally outgrows the behavior. Really, we’re kind of exhausted of the constant nagging. I’ll take some time to dig into a few more articles to see if there are any other little voodoo tricks that I can pull on her, weed out the old wives’ tales, and maybe I’ll poke around on YouTube for some hypnosis tutorials. One way or another those cute little thumbs will eventually be able to towel off and enjoy some Colorado sunshine…hopefully very soon.

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