Sunday, June 24, 2007

To Suck or Not to Suck? That is the question....

At Caroline's fabulous dentist appointment there was a bit of a dilemna raised - the issue of her thumbsucking. Caroline has been a thumbsucker since she was able to successfully keep her thumb in her mouth, which was before 3 months old. And in those 3 months prior, she was trying to most likely replicate what was easier in the womb.

However, the dentist was concerned since it's obviously started to change the shape of her mouth. I knew it without him telling me, but having a professional tell you isn't the easiest thing to hear. Both he and the hygienist told us to discourage her all around with it but if necessary, it only be a bedtime thing.

I'm having a hard time with it because I know that she'll only stop the thumbsucking when she decides to. I don't believe that using nasty fingernail polish or some other device is going to work without some other difficult behavioral side effect. I also think it would be much better if she made the decision to stop on her own since she will need to actually want to for it to be successful.

So yesterday we had a talk about it and how mommy and daddy want her to try to remember to stop sucking it. I told her that we want her teeth and mouth to be pretty and that continued sucking, particularly as the adult teeth come in will likely result in orthodontics. (Of course she wouldn't have understood that so I broke it down a little for her....) She told me she would try but of course on the way to the party, she fell asleep with her thumb in her mouth and twirling her hair as she always does.

But maybe I hadn't given her enough credit because when we got home and she couldn't fall asleep after almost 2 hours, I went into her room and laid down with her. And amazingly enough, she didn't put her thumb in her mouth. She kept going to sleep, but the second I got up, she'd wake up. I finally left her room when I thought she was asleep and she started crying. I asked her why she couldn't go to sleep and she didn't say anything.

But I asked her, "Caroline, are you having trouble going to sleep because you can't suck your thumb?"

"Yes." she sniffled.

"It's okay sweetheart, if you need to suck your thumb at bedtime, I won't be mad. We'll just work on it in the day."

And with that, she crawled into bed and was asleep within seconds. That just about broke my heart. She was trying sooooooooo hard to not suck her thumb and was having so much trouble, but didn't want to admit it. Of course this morning every time I peeked in on her watching SpongeBob, she was twirling her hair and sucking away at good old Leftie. I gently reminded her it wasn't sleep time and she'd stop for a few minutes.

I know it's such an engrained habit for her that this won't be easy. I remember my MIL telling me that she secretly sucked her thumb through her childhood because she knew she needed to stop. And I wonder if that will be Caroline. I also know that we already have such trouble getting her to go to sleep sometimes at night and naptime that taking this away will just make our problems worse.

And then I realize, there are much worse things in the world than this and it's not worth worrying about b/c she will stop when she's ready and just to reward her for when she doesn't suck on it.

Makes me realize how much easier the pacifier situation was with weaning Bryce off of it. Once it was gone, that was it. Clearly, we don't have it that easy with her little shriveled thumb.


bracken said...

That is such a hard thing to deal with. Sydney, thankfully, only sucks her thumb when she is holding teddy. I am still worried that we will have a hard time breaking that too.

Heather said...

I sucked my thumb when I was little. My parents tried the yucky nailpolish stuff - I just ate it right off since it only tasted bad for a few seconds. She'll grow out of it, though. I think I stopped when I noticed that none of my friends sucked their thumbs. What a follower I was.

Anonymous said...

I too sucked my thumb and I magically stopped on my own when I was 3 1/2 or 4. I too probably realized no one else I knew sucked their thumb and I didn't want to be different. I think Caroline will ditch this habit when she's ready and I don't think that it's too far off.

But with that being said I'm glad that Kenzie only "uses" a paci at nap/bed time and even then she throws it out so I'm not sure it's really needed anymore :) So much easier to throw a paci away than a hand, you know :)

~ Viv

Katie said...

I'd keep doing what your doing and try to break the habit slowly over time. I've heard it's a tough habit to break though.