I am trying to get multiple opinions on treating night time thumb sucking behaviors for a 3 year old. My co-worker has a new client that is 3 years old and sucks his thumb in the night. The dentist noticed that it is affecting his palate. How would you handle this with a 3 year old (considering it is a sleeping behavior or goes in when he gets tired)? My thought is: address it with the child as a celebration to stop thumb sucking, parent gives kid extra affection, gives the kid a stuffed animal or something else to hold while falling asleep (and addresses that the thumb is out of the mouth, praises the kid, rubs the child’s back, etc as he is falling asleep), and the parent then checks on the kid while he is sleeping and takes the thumb out of the child’s mouth if it goes in when he is sleeping. Not sure if this is really going to work though, since the child is so young and is doing it unconsciously when sleeping (no real motivation for the child to stop). What are your thoughts? Would you use a glove or sock at this age???? Or, just wait until the child is older???
Generally, three years old is too young. I have had success over the years with three 3 year olds: all girls, all mature beyond their years, all extremely high in language abilities, all with near perfect compliant parents and all who expressed the desire to quit to parents and to me BEFORE I had the chance to tell about Unplugging The Thumb approach. You asked about the possibility of trying to celebrate his attempt to quit, giving extra affection, giving him a stuffed animal for night time, rubbing his back, etc. I am not crazy about a haphazard approach. It rarely works because neither the child nor the parent has a clear goal or goals in mind. I probably would not consider using the Sockie by itself because even with children who are anxious to quit, Sockie often falls out during the first or second nights or the child takes it off while in deep sleep. Without the backup information in a planned approach, it is likely that the child will feel like a failure. We want to avoid that and that is why waiting a bit longer might be more advantageous for this particular youngster, as much as we are unhappy about the damage being done to his palate. For ideas about a systematic approach, see the following: https://orofacialmyology.com/oral-habits/