How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie

*Disclosure: We were sent the Thumbsie thumb guards for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own. 

How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie - thumbs up

How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie

If you follow my Facebook page, you will know that I have been trying to get my son to stop sucking his thumb for a while now, and have been reaching out to other parents for advice on how to manage it.

Ever since he was born, Logan has sucked his thumb. I remember when he was a tiny baby someone said to me, it’s much easier to get them to stop sucking a dummy rather than a thumb (they were right), and I spent one evening trying to replace his thumb with a dummy. It was a futile exercise and he spat it out every time I tried, I gave up in the end.

A fact for you, a lot of babies actually suck their thumbs in the womb and it is something a child instinctively does to self soothe and comfort themselves.

I’ve tried a few times to get him to stop sucking his thumb, but with very little luck. As it is something that he does to comfort himself, it was something I wanted to do kindly. It’s not just a bad habit, you’re taking away a crutch that has been a friend to your child.

The main two things I tried were the awful nail varnish that is meant to make the thumb taste too disgusting to suck – which he just either sucked off or got used to the flavour. Or gently reminding him whenever he was doing in a bid to make him aware that he was actually sucking his thumb – this didn’t work either as his thumb was just like a boomerang and back in his mouth often a minute later.

A New Approach with Thumbsie

How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie

When he turned 7 I decided this was something we needed to tackle. I was worried about his teeth as he now has two ‘big teeth’ and also hygiene reasons. I am convinced it won’t be helping with the spread of the dreaded sickness bugs that seem to sweep through schools. But also I didn’t want him to still be sucking his thumb as an adult, I wanted to help him tackle the issue now.

At around this time I came across Thumbsie. Thumbsie is a thumb guard created by entrepreneur Jo Bates, who originally created them to stop her daughter from sucking her thumb. They are a material thumb guard that goes over your child’s thumb and fastens around their wrist. They come in all sorts of prints and designs, even school uniform themed if your child is of school age.

We were sent a pack of three to help Logan to stop sucking his thumb. If you are in the same position that I was in, here are my top tips on how to get an older child to stop sucking their thumb with Thumbsie. But they should work with younger children too.

How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie - with bag

Tips to get your child to stop sucking their thumb

  1. Make sure you child is on board. The biggest and most important thing you need to do is make sure your child wants to give up thumb sucking.  There is no way this would have worked if my son didn’t want to give up. He could easily take the Thumbsie off himself. I took him through why it was a good idea to give up – we talked about the impact on his teeth and about the germs he can catch. I also asked him if he thought some of his superheroes and favourite guitar players sucked their thumb and we agreed that they probably didn’t.
  2. Get their teacher’s support. The only way Thumbsie works is by getting your child to wear them all day, everyday. So before Logan started wearing his, I went and had a chat with his teacher and explained what we were doing, if it was ok to wear it to school and she was very supportive and ready to help when we started the next day. The only thing school said was that he couldn’t wear it for PE which wasn’t a problem as he was too busy then to suck his thumb anyway. There was one small blip with one child, which was quickly sorted, but most of his friends were really supportive and actually thought it was quite cool, because of the different designs.How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie - the thumb guards
  3. Let them choose the design. I think this is particularly important if your child is older. This is something they are going have to wear everyday for a little while and something they are going to have to wear in front of their friends. The design is going to have to be, well, cool. Logan choose all of his designs himself and went with – camo, superheroes and skulls and cross bones.
  4. Wear them every single day and night, no exceptions. As I’ve said above, your child needs to wear them 24/7. It felt a bit daunting when I read this at first in the pack that came with the Thumbsies. But if you approach it with positivity it’s actually fine and Logan soon got used to it.
  5. Agree a final reward prize. Giving up sucking their thumb is a big deal for your child, or at least it was for Logan. So after we sat down and chatted about the whys, I then talked about what he could have if he managed to achieve his goal and stop sucking his thumb entirely. I expected him to choose a toy, but in actual fact he asked to be able to go to a book shop and choose whatever he wanted. During the process to keep him motivated, we often talked about his final reward at the end.
  6. Use a reward chart as well. As well as the reward prize we were all sent a reward chart which we used each day to mark Logan’s process and show how many days he had managed to go thumb free. Each day we put a sticker on the chart and I used this to encourage and praise him.
  7. You’re going to need at least three. We had three and I would say this is the absolute minimum you need. It’s the simple logistics of washing them and making sure there is a clean thumb guard for your child to wear every day. Logan actually lost one of his thumb guards half way through (still no idea where it is, I’m sure it will turn up someone random!) so I have to wash and dry one daily and there were some nights at 10pm where I had to quickly panic hand wash one and stick it on the boiler to dry it for the morning, which was a bit of a pain.
  8. Be their cheerleader. There are going to be slip ups. We had a day Logan forgot to wear his guard to school and a different day at night, both days he ended up sucking his thumb. It feels really frustrating at the time, especially if they have been wearing the guard a little while, but keep going. When they are fed up of wearing the guard and the novelty has worn off, when they have slip ups, keep positive and keep going.
  9. Be patient. When I read about the thumb sucking, some people said their child managed to stop sucking their thumb within two weeks. This wasn’t my experience with Logan. I think it might because he is 7, and if your child is older I have a suspicion it may even take a little longer.  But, all in all it took him about 7 weeks of wearing the thumb guard to fully kick the habit. We started by taking the guard off for periods in the day and then finally stopping it at night which was when he used to suck his thumb the most. The first night I kept sneaking in to check he wasn’t secretly sucking away!

We did it! I’ll be honest with you, there really was a few times when I didn’t think we would manage it. I was also worried if the thumb guard failed where we would go from here as the next step and whether we would have to just give up on giving up. But it was so worth persevering for.

How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie - Logan with reward

What made it really worth it was Logan’s face when he eventually achieved his goal. I think there was a part of him that also thought he wouldn’t manage it. To actually work hard and consistently strive towards a goal and eventually achieve it was a really good lesson for him to learn and really helped to bolster his self confidence. Here is his success certificate and the books he choose when we went to the book shop.

4 thoughts on “How I Got My 7 Year Old to Stop Sucking his Thumb with Thumbsie

  1. Thanks Laura for the great review, there are some really useful first hand tips for parents. So glad that we could help you and Logan through what can be a difficult time. Jo, Thumbsie Ltd

  2. Toby is getting on for 6 and still sucks his thumb. He rarely sucks it during the day now though, it’s just a sleep thing for him. At the moment his top front teeth are both wobbly and he has definitely been sucking his thumb less (I can tell because his nail is looking almost normal instead of soft and split as usual) so I’m hoping that when they come out it will feel too strange sucking his thumb and he will stop altogether. If he doesn’t though I think we might be giving Thumbsies a try!

  3. This is fantastic. I had this issue when I was young and didn’t want my kids to be like me. I was so bad for it. This is really good. Well done Logan x

  4. What a great invention, I sucked my thumb until I was 12 and needed braces, my mum bought this liquid to put on my thumb that tasted disgusting, I would have much preferred this lol xx

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