My daughter who is now 7 is still sucking her thumb. It is a great embarrassment to her and she always talks about how it is her big secret from her friends. We have tried the finger nail polish, bandaids, and specialized thumb covers, but eventually she overcomes them all because she can not sleep. Suggestions?

  • 1
    I'm making this a comment because it's purely anecdotal: I sucked my thumb until I was about seven. My parents (read: mother) told me that if I stopped, I would get big girl furniture for my room. So I did; if I thought about thumbsucking, I'd read a book instead (reading required both hands) or I'd go play with toys or something. At night, I'd sleep with my right hand (my preferred thumb) under my pillow and/or under my head so that I wouldn't suck it by accident. It was hard, but Big Girl Furniture for my room was way more important to me than thumbsucking. I also realize it was bribery, ha!
    – Aarthi
    Dec 6, 2011 at 4:05
  • don't let her overcome the various tools. She'll fall asleep in the end. Dec 28, 2011 at 6:58

5 Answers 5


I would talk to your dentist. She may suggest a fixed palatal crib or other corrective device. The idea behind these devices is they prevent the thumb from touching the gums and make thumb sucking uncomfortable. After a month or so, the habit is broken.

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  • How can I talk my dentist into trying this? I asked him how to get my daughter to stop and he said it won't hurt her teeth so she's fine. :(
    – jlg
    Dec 5, 2011 at 17:30
  • @jlg How old is your daughter? I'm not a dentist, but until the permanent teeth come in, I don't think there is a dental concern. This apparatus may also affect speech development, so I could see being cautious. It's important that your daughter WANTS to stop before putting something like this in place as well. Once it starts pushing your daughter's teeth into an overbite, he likely will start looking at mechanical solutions. Dec 5, 2011 at 17:46
  • She turned 5 last September. She tells me a lot that she doesn't want to suck on her finger but I believe it has just become a nasty habit. I don't want her doing it when she goes into kindergarten next fall!
    – jlg
    Dec 5, 2011 at 18:45
  • It's not really a dental concern at all, from my understanding. But it's like stopping smoking while you always a have a lit cigarette in your hand. :-) Dec 28, 2011 at 6:56

My brother sucked his thumb until late in his teens. What got him to stop was his own desire to grow up and become accepted by his peers.

This is a tad creative and unique, but how about letting the child stay up all night. Then she will fall asleep without it. Once she is awake, you can congratulate her on her first night without using it.

Then inspire her to do a second night, challenger her to a third...

Just don't make a child feel as it they are bad for wanting to pursue this habit, as it can cause additional stress and tension for the child.


My daughter had the appliance put on by the dentist. It cost quite a bit and broke apart within a month. The second appliance lasted less than 24 hours. We are going to try some less expensive methods to encourage her to stop sucking her thumb. Mittens, nail polish etc.


I've known kids, including a very good friend of my 19 year old daughter who was still sucking her thumb in my eighth grade algebra class.

Sure, you want her to stop, and she wants to stop, but in the grand scheme of things, this isn't that big a problem, and she will stop eventually.

I wouldn't stress too much about it because stressing children rarely accomplishes anything good, and it might make her more likely to suck her thumb as a way to handle stress! Laugh with her and never at her, realize this might take a while, and be OK with that.

  • I don't have enough reputation to downvote here, but thumb sucking is a problem. It causes deformation of the gums & jawbone, like the upper palette and/or even malocclusion.
    – Xarcell
    Oct 4, 2014 at 14:13
  • Sure it does. And so does humiliation. A humiliated kid won't stop thumb sucking or bed wetting. Laughter, humor, are a surer approach with no down side.
    – Marc
    Oct 4, 2014 at 23:11
  • I don't have an issue with how you deal with it, I have a problem with you saying thumb sucking isn't a big problem. You missed my point entirely...
    – Xarcell
    Oct 5, 2014 at 21:41
  • I've students who've been beaten, sexually abused, fighting cancer, parents in jail, suffered head traumas, spent years on a heart transplant list, and committed suicide. Thumb-sucking is a problem, but it's not a big problem. It can be made into a big problem, a problem much harder to solve by a heavy-handed, punitive, humiliating attempt at solving it. On the other hand, I've seen it addressed lightly, with humor, and I've seen it go away. The kid doesn't want to do it. If it's a comforting action, giving her a reason to need comforting isn't going to work.
    – Marc
    Oct 5, 2014 at 23:50
  • We'll just have to agree to disagree for the sake of not arguing about how big of an issue thumb-sucking is in each of our opinions. Ergo, the issue is about thumb sucking, not the other tragedies you mentioned in which you compare it too for the sake of trying winning an argument. Again I'll say that I don't have a problem in addressing it lightly as a tactic to correct the issue, it's worth a try; but again I completely disagree with it not being a big problem. Heck, if I choose to be so dramatic like you, I could say thumb-sucking could lead to ugliness, then peer teasing, then suicide.
    – Xarcell
    Oct 7, 2014 at 12:08

I sucked my thumb until I was 18 and I didn't have a problem with it, unlike the people around me. When my parents went about "correcting" it, I couldn't sleep, as I didn't feel safe, and then I would just feel bad that they had a problem with it. Mom eventually accepted it when I was a little older as a source of comfort and then eventually I was able to break the habit on my own because I wanted to.

Also, I never had any problems with my teeth becoming deformed. I had braces only because I had two teeth grow above my other teeth.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience, @Brittany. It's interesting to hear that when YOU wanted to change your habit, you were able to do so. Jun 14, 2015 at 23:19

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