By Madelein, a working mom of 2, main supporter of her husband’s budding business, reader of anything and everything and creator of the blog, Life love and everything else
I think if you had to ask my 5 year old son’s thumb that question, it (he?) would just gargle – In your mouth, in your mouth and how do you do?
Andrew started to suck his thumb when he was still inside my tummy. We have the most adorable scan pictures of him sucking his thumb. Well it was then. Not so adorable at 5 going on six.
He took a dummy quite fine, but at six months spat it out and attached his thumb firmly to his mouth. Nothing that I, or his daymom did, could stop him.
At 3 years old we (all the team players at this stage, mom, dad and daymom) managed to convince him to stop with a very brightly illustrated reward chart with cars on it. He loves cars, I reckoned it was a good idea to combine cars into a reward chart to motivate him.
And so he stopped. And everyone involved breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The next year (4 going on 5 now) he started at a new nursery school and before I knew it was sucking his thumb again. Big concerns all around. Urgent parent teacher discussion. She told us that in all her years of teaching she has never seen a child take up thumb sucking again once they stopped.
She tells us that he is having some settling down issues. He’s the youngest in the class. It’s the first time that he and his 2 year old sister is not at the same school.
We decide to give it some time and not make an issue out of it.
As we progress through the year, the thumb sucking persists. And he is now sleeping in our room almost every night.
Eventually the teacher decrees that he should not move to Grade R the next year and rather be kept back a year. This would allow him to emotionally mature.
It is at this stage that I decide to take him to an educational psychologist. To asses exactly where the problems are.
She determines that there is no developmental areas that need to be specifically addressed. It’s just a matter of him having to emotionally mature.
She suggests to stop the thumb sucking, that we tell him to rub his hand instead. Almost to comfort himself. Because that is exactly the reason why he is sucking his thumb. To comfort himself. Pretty much the same as an adult would use coffee, cigarettes ,wine or food (or anything else) to comfort themselves.
So I have a chat with our little man about rubbing your hand instead of sucking his thumb. His response after careful consideration: Mom does that mean I can suck my thumb after I rubbed my hand?
I just had to laugh!
Today, 18 months after resuming thumbsucking, it’s become a habit. Which we are trying to put a stop to. This time with the help of his current teacher and some bribery involved for his sixth birthday. So far, so good. He has stopped coming through to our bedroom at night from almost the beginning of the year. Overall he is just a much more settled and happy child and not as anxious as last year.
Through all this we have learned to let my son lead the way with solutions to his problems. Not to pressurise or force an issue. And that in itself is a great achievement.