Offbeat — 15 February 2014

Why Do Kids Suck Their Thumbs

Thumb sucking is a common habit among toddlers who start sucking their fingers due to soothing effects of it. Most of the kids start it as a reflex action and leave this habit after their early years, but some of them continue practicing thumb sucking for a longer time period. It can have harmful effects if kids are not stopped from putting their thumbs into mouths. However, you may need to know the reasons for thumb sucking in case you have to stop your kids’ habit.

As a reflex action

When a child is born, they have a reflex action of putting every new thing into their mouths. This is usually termed their oral stage of development. However, a reflex action may later turn into a habit if it is allowed to be continued. The same happens when a child’s thumb sucking habit is ignored in early days and allowed as a way to pacify them.

For therapeutic gains

People and things make a child comfortable in various situations. For example, the presence of mothers makes kids happier so they feel a soothing effect. The same is observed when they are given a pacifier or a milk bottle. When such therapeutic objects or people are away from kids, they start feeling insecure and require something soothing to compensate their absence. Thus, they receive this comfort by sucking thumbs. This further develops into a habit and they suck thumbs whenever they need a soothing object.

To avoid fear or boredom

Thumb sucking is also a way to avoid boredom. If kids are not involved in interesting activities or are left alone for longer time, they start finding an alternative to entertain themselves. Sucking a thumb gives them pleasure and they find it as a way to kill their time. The same happens when a kid is scared of something and wants a support to face that fear.


About Author

Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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