Hi, how are you? I was delighted to speak with you today, even for a brief moment. As mentioned earlier, my daughter is turning 3 in April. She was born with a high palate, and has been sucking her thumb day and night since birth. I would love to hear all your positive ways of when, and how to go about making her break this habit. (She does have a very slight lisp, constantly putting her tongue out when saying any “s” words, something her pediatrician said she will outgrow, and should not be concerned about. I do also want to mention that she did have speech therapy at the age of 1 for a very short time as she was eating, drinking from a straw, and speaking very well).
That said, I have also noticed you have experience with nail biting as well. My son is turning 9 in July, has showed a habit of nail biting about 4 months ago, but is trying to stop, hearing how not nice, and addictive it will get. I would love to hear any information you think would be helpful for us to help him quit his habit before it develops into a full time thing. So glad I found you! Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi, In the absence of a syndrome or other condition, it is unusual for a baby’s palate to be so high that a doctor notices it at birth. Do you think she sucked her thumb in utero? Does the shape of the palate fit the shape of her thumb? On our phone call, you asked about Unplugging The Thumb program. It was developed with a 4 – 10 year old child in mind. This is because it requires that a child make the decision to quit after having seen a video, heard a story about other children who decided to quit and had fun doing so, etc. Kids under 4 are rarely able to reason in a way that enables them to be able to do this. I have had three kids, all girls, who were under four years old and were able to successfully complete the program within a few days. None ever went back to the thumb habit. However, all three girls were closer to 4 years old than to 3 years; all three were exceptionally advanced cognitively and with regard to language comprehension and expressive skills. Two of the three had older siblings who’d undergone simple speech therapy and the little sisters had watched or sat in on the sessions. They had actually requested help for their own sucking habits. You daughter is too young and I know that it pains you to have to watch her sucking her thumb, knowing it affects speech, dentition, and more. I’m not sure if any of the strong nasty methods would work, but you have to ask yourself whether they would (1) decrease your good relationship with her or (2) encourage her to figure out a way “around” the method or (3) frustrate her for a long period of time and perhaps leave a lasting negative feeling that could relate to other challenges later on in life. I don’t know the answer, or if any of them could even occur, but it is important to think about it. When a child is younger than two, it is easier to use a variety of simplistic methods; when they are around 4 years, it is ideal to use my method; but between 2-3 years, it is anyone’s guess what the best approach is. How much she talks and understands is the key for what you might be able to try at this time and I have no idea about her language skills. By the way, I wish pediatricians would stay within their own realm and not tell parents that magic occurs at a certain age and problems disappear. I am dealing with the adult results of such misstatements by well- meaning pediatricians and others. Lisps and thumb sucking go hand in hand often; open bites go right along much of the time. A thumb misplaces the tongue and even when the thumb is removed, the tongue remains in that incorrect rest location. From there is where speech takes off…and it is from that incorrect position that the S is made that causes a lisp. Some older kids learn tricks to “hide” a lisp, but it is still there unless the sucking habit is taken care of, often followed by orofacial myology therapy for a period of time to retrain the muscles to do what nature intended and to rest in the proper position for good speech. If you feel that you cannot wait another 6-12 months to see if she can Unplug her thumb, you can try a “nastier” method, but don’t do it if it means that she will blame you in any way or if it causes her misery. That is my opinion at this time and I wish I had better news for you. As far as your son and his nails, we do have a fun program, Growing the Nails. I recommend a reward type program, taking photos before and after of his nails, and having a parent/son outing as a celebration when he has grown his nice nails. Many boys use clear strong nail polish on the nails during that time. I do hope this helps and that you will keep me posted… Sandra