Ask the Doctor

Question #4:

My 8-year-old still sucks his thumb. I hate to pressure him to stop and don’t want to shame him, so what should I do?

Answer:

Tonia Cox, MD, of CHKD Health System’s Suffolk Pediatrics, says, “Thumb-sucking is common in babies and young children but most have stopped in infancy or usually by age 4 or 5. You don’t say how often your son sucks his thumb. A few minutes at bedtime is probably nothing to worry about, but more than that could affect the shape of your child’s mouth or the alignment of his teeth. It could also be a sign that your child is seeking comfort from some unusual stress. If you think he is stressed or emotionally upset, please discuss it with your child’s pediatrician. If not, help your child realize that he will eventually need to stop sucking his thumb. Help him find alternative ways of calming down before bed. But don’t shame him or tease him for his habit. Eventually, he will give it up on his own.”


All Questions

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  4. My 8-year-old still sucks his thumb. I hate to pressure him to stop and don’t want to shame him, so what should I do?
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