How to stop my 5 year old from sucking her finger more often , accompanied by playing with her nipples or her hand down her pants ( no idea what she's doing ).

  • @Rory Alsop this is not a duplicate of the linked question and the answers in the link do not address the specific situation described by the OP – MAA Jul 9 '17 at 12:56
  • The question was very nearly closed as being too broad. We have questions on thumb sucking for all age groups here. We don't need another badly worded one. – Rory Alsop Jul 9 '17 at 14:39
  • Agree that the question is badly worded, however linking the above question is misleading and likely doesn't help the OP (at least I did not see any answers there that seemed to apply). Maybe there is a more relevant question to link, as this one is certainly not an "exact duplicate" of the one mentioned above. – MAA Jul 9 '17 at 14:54

It would be helpful to know when your child is doing these things. Is it at bed time? At school/daycare? All the time? This would help with assessing whether (and to what extent) the behaviors are a problem. However, I'll give it my best shot with the information I have:

1) thumb-sucking/finger-sucking is usually something that makes children feel more calm and secure, however it isn't good for the teeth or the fingers, and at age 5 your daughter might be teased by other children for doing it, so you're right to be looking for ways to help her stop. As mentioned above, it's something that makes kids feel safe, though, so it's important to provide a replacement "security blanket." Enter thumbuddies :) thumbuddies are basically finger puppets with a comfortable wrist-strap attached, and the idea is that you put the puppet over the thumb (or finger) that your child likes to suck at the times when she is most likely to do so (e.g. Bed time). So I would suggest that you first sit down with your daughter and explain why it is important for her to stop sucking her fingers, and then introduce her to her new thumbuddies and let her know that they are there to remind her that she is safe and loved, and that when she feels like sucking she can cuddle up to them. Then be patient with her (as in don't expect that she'll magically quit completely over night, and be kind and encouraging, even if at first she pulls the thumbuddies off and pops her fingers in her mouth).

I'll just add that real thumbuddies are kind of pricey, but if you're crafty at all, you can just get your favorite finger puppets (make sure they're safe for the mouth) and attach some fabric/finger-knitting/Velcro for wrist ties. (This is what I did for my little brother)

2) as far as playing with herself, this behavior could be stemming from the same root as the finger-sucking, but isn't necessarily bad, in the sense that it won't hurt her and is a natural human behavior. The where/when are very important for this, but whatever the context in which it is happening, the only real remedy is talking to her about it and explaining the social rules she is expected to follow. I would start by sitting down with her and saying 1) it's natural to want to play with yourself, and you should not feel bad about it - in fact, most people do it. 2) however, there are some rules that everyone is expected to follow (including mommy and daddy), like stopping for red lights, or saying please and thank you, and there is one about this too: it's only ok to play with yourself when there are no other people around. It's something private, so you need to be alone to do it.

I would just add that both of these behaviors can be (but aren't necessarily) indicators that the child is experiencing unusual psychological stressors (like anxiety or depression) so it might be a good idea to keep an eye on your daughter's emotional state and make sure her happiness/sense of security and being loved etc are all good. I'm not saying that there is a problem with her experience of safety or anything, just that it might be worth checking for.

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