Giving up the thumb is thumbs down



My oldest son has inherited my teeth, which I inherited from my mother, and so the cycle continues-braces braces and more braces. The difference between us is that he sucks his thumb and I never did. We figured he would just stop one day. I was in no rush to try and thrust this upon him. He will be 10 next week, and he still sucks it. When he was first born he had some major colic. When he did sleep he had to be skin to skin with me, and if I moved even half an inch- oh the crying would start again. I learned immediately that I would have to wear this child constantly and nurse him always, and it took 6 months before life calmed down. When the dust settled from that period he was sucking his thumb and you know what–Thank God!!! He stopped crying, and I would never even think about taking that thumb away from him. It has been there for him after long days at school, fights with siblings, frustration with parents, feeling overwhelmed with school work, we have moved a few times and when a place is unfamiliar and there are no friends yet, his thumb has been a source of comfort.  Then it became a just part of his routine. We all know routine is hard to break. He started only doing it and night and with a certain teddy bear in hand. I assumed this meant he would stop soon, but he still hasn’t. The dentist is very concerned. His thumb has started to reshape the top of the mouth, move teeth around, and is starting to push back on his lower teeth as well. We were sent to an Orthodontist to see what his thoughts were, and he wasn’t so doom and gloom about the current state of his teeth, but he did say we were at a critical point in the development and ability to self correct some of the damage– the thumb has to go. They have a retainer they use if the child can’t stop on his own, but since we will be spending loads on braces in a couple years I don’t really want to add more $$$ for a retainer to get him to stop sucking his thumb. If it turns out he needs it, we will, but I thought I would go with tough love. I told him he had to give me the teddy bear, I would keep it for one month, and he wasn’t even allowed to look at it in that time. After that, we would see where we stand on the thumb sucking. There were some tears, there was some anxiety, but in the end he agreed and has done remarkably well. I haven’t seen him suck his thumb. I am letting him sleep in my bed with me for a week or so, that way it doesn’t feel so daunting trying to fall asleep without the comfort of bear and thumb. I know he is still worried about it, but I know too, that he is ready for this next stage of life that brings him one step further away from childhood. I am not sure I am though– we both need to be strong.

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