If you have seen Jesse over the past few weeks you may have noticed his little thumbnails have been painted. I'm pretty sure our little experiment has worked, so I'm ready to tell about it. Jesse has sucked his thumb for the past four years. One time I took him to the after hours clinic because I though he might have an ear infection. For some reason I was always paranoid about this but neither of my boys have ever had one, thankfully. Anyway, while we were there Jesse who was only one was of course sucking his thumb. The nurse felt the need to share the great advice she had received from the doctor that helped her son stop sucking his thumb.
This was his advice. First you tell your child that if they don't stop sucking their thumb that it will turn black and then fall off. Yes you heard me right. So then you sneak into their room at night and color their thumb with a magic marker. So they wake up and are too scared to suck their thumb again. As she let me in on this marvelous idea, I'm pretty sure I was speechless. I probably managed to say "Oh wow, thanks. My son is only one, so I'm not too worried about it now." Of course then the nurse left and the doctor came in and saw Jesse sucking his thumb and began telling me his wonderful advice that always works...
At the boys last dentist appointment the dentist told me that the thumb sucking was beginning to effect Jesse's teeth. He asked me if I wanted to know about a way to help him quit. I said of course, but not if it was really mean. He said "Oh it's mean, but it will work." He wrote down the name of a product to buy called Mavala Stop. It goes on like clear fingernail polish and tastes terrible. I had been telling Jesse for quite awhile that eventually he would need to stop his thumb sucking habit, and that I would help him. I wanted to wait till after he had settled into preschool and after his birthday.
We discussed thumb sucking and how it is bad for your teeth when kids get bigger. I started telling him that when kids suck their thumbs, after awhile they begin to taste yucky. I felt bad lying to him, so sometimes I mentioned that we would put something on his thumb to make it taste bad to help him quit the habit. He would tell me that he liked to suck his thumb and would keep doing it. I proposed that we try it for a few days and then after that if he wanted to suck his thumb he could. He liked this compromise.
Finally one evening I told him it was time and got the Mavala Stop out. He changed his mind and didn't want to do it ;) So I put some on my thumb and tasted it and told him it was a little yucky but look how shiny and sparkly it is! He agreed to have some on his non-sucking thumb. Then, as he was admiring that I offered to put some colored polish on his sucking thumb. His eyes lit up and I put a dot of color on and then a dab of Mavala Stop and told him it would taste bad. He agreed to keep it out of his mouth and happily admired his pretty thumbs.
Jesse understood what was going on and why and that it was all just temporary. He never threw any fits about it. A few times he would come to me on the verge of tears because he had forgot and sucked his thumb. I would get him a drink of water and he was all better. I was really amazed at how well he did with this. Every couple days I put a new dot of color for him and added a dot of Mavala Stop with out telling him. I did this for 2 weeks. I haven't talked much to Jesse about it since then because I don't want to encourage him to start the habit again. It has been 3 weeks of no thumb sucking! Oh, and his ear flipping habit is gone too:)
I am so happy that I was able to help him do this before it became a problem, and that we were able to do it in such a positive and understanding way. So now I just need to figure out how to deal with Leo's pacifier habit :) He only uses it in his crib and I think I should probably just take it away and he would get over it after a night or two. I just haven't had the nerve to do it! Maybe today is the day, I'll let you know.