How can I get my boy to stop sucking his thumb?

My boy is now six years old but for some reason he is still in the habit of sucking on his thumb all the time. I thought that by now the habit would have gone because it makes him look like a spoilt child. I have been asking around for advice on how I can get him to stop. Do you have any advice for me?  Winnie, Kimihurura

My boy is now six years old but for some reason he is still in the habit of sucking on his thumb all the time. I thought that by now the habit would have gone because it makes him look like a spoilt child. I have been asking around for advice on how I can get him to stop. Do you have any advice for me? 

Winnie, Kimihurura

Dear WINNIE,
thank you for raising this problem that is quite common among young children. I am sure there are lots of other parents that have to deal with the same situation. When a very young child falls asleep with a thumb in the mouth, it may look adorable but we cannot say the same about a school going child.

At his age, sucking his thumb is not only a disgusting look it could also be dangerous in some ways. You may not know where his hand has been before it goes in the mouth. In other words it may serve as a conduit for germs if he is not careful.

Start by getting your dentist to explain to your child how this habit can interfere with teeth and jaw alignment so they can see the need to stop. You can also find out the time when he is does this most and then find ways of occupying him so that he keeps his hand away from his mouth.

In all you do, be patient with your child. Give lots of praise if he seems to be doing it less and less. You can even give small rewards for his efforts. You can have a few punitive conditions too but nothing so harsh.

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