top of page

Breaking Harmful Habits

Thumb (or digit) sucking or using a pacifier may seem like a cute, harmless habit. But, here are some facts you may not know from Rosemarie A. Van Norman, author and nationally recognized oral myologist.

-40% of children who suck their thumb or other digits had learning and behavioral problems in school

- 59% of digit suckers experience atypical root resorption

- 60% of malocclusion is caused by prolonged digit sucking

- 85% of digit suckers exhibit an open bite

- Open bites many times lead to TMD due to laterally shifting of the jaw in order to chew

If you follow me on social media you may have already seen these statistics and you might be here to learn more about how you can help your child break this habit and create habits that are healthier for overall development.

I want to encourage you first of all and say that if you're having trouble with this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! It is very, VERY hard to break this habit, especially when you have a child with an oral fixation. You may need to use a combination of the things I suggest to get results and that's ok. Finding what works and sticking with it, even when it seems impossible are going to get you the results you want.



Is there a certain time of day that you notice your child primarily resorting to the habit. Nap time, bed time, or down time (like playing a tablet or watching TV) tend to be the most common times for young children. Identifying your child’s problem times is helpful in coming up with the best plan for correcting the problem. If you are having success using a device (we'll cover devices a little later on) make sure you have that device in place at these problematic times especially. If you notice your child reverting during screen time, remove the screen for 5-10 minutes each time to you see your child start sucking the thumb. With a pacifier you can remove it from the child, which usually results in outbursts, tears, and tantrums. At times when they are used to having it bring comfort try offering a replacement. You could say something like, "you're such a big girl/boy now you don't need a binky anymore for nap time, but you could snuggle your favorite toy or stuffed animal instead."


For some children having a visual reward system is a great incentive to help them stay on track with letting go of harmful habits. Make sure to set realistic goals for them so they don't get discouraged for not meeting them. For example, an older child might be able to make it a whole day without sucking his or her thumb and get a star, but expecting a toddler to do that would be unrealistic. A better option for a smaller child might be receiving a star for going one nap time without it, or a star for every hour or two they go without. Starting with small step, big reward can be a great way to get kids excited about letting go of the bad habit.


Constant encouragement is key. For some children even having facts about the risks of their habit might help them break it. Talk about how it can effect their smile and how they chew their food and how many germs we have on our hands. Having a perspective other than their parents can be helpful for children as well. Read books about it, watch their favorite shows that have episodes with their favorite characters breaking the habit, and there are some great free resources on YouTube as well. Having encouragement from someone other than their family members can be really helpful for a child to understand they aren't alone and other people have found success.


For some children encouragement, reward, and discussion are just not enough. There are a number of things that can be done to discourage thumb sucking. Unfortunately, this does not apply or work for those who are trying to get rid of a physical pacifier or binky. But, a few options for digit suckers are:

* Plastic, or cloth finger covers. There are a variety of brands on the market that all do effectively do the same thing. You can even try gloves or socks over the hands if you want to use something you already have at home.

* Wrapping your child's elbow in an Ace bandage. The bulk of the bandage on the arm makes it less comfortable for the child to bend the arm to the mouth. There is also a device that can be purchased called a Nipit that physically prevents them from bending the hand at the elbow at all. This unfortunately makes it difficult to do anything else with their arms either, like life a sandwich to their mouth, so it's not the best alternative but a good option for kids with an extreme habit that hasn't been broken with more conventional methods.

*There are some extreme appliances that can be placed by a dentist or orthodontist like a palatal crib or cage. This is a last resort option when all else has failed and the habit is starting to cause severe and irreversible damage to speech and function. It's very costly and has some risks of damage of their own.


There is a product on the market called Chewlry, you can buy it on Amazon that is a wearable jewelry made of silicone that your child can suck or bite on that might help replace the sucking habit and satisfy the oral fixation. The problem may become that they trade one habit for another. There is also the option of bitter or foul tasting nail polish that you can put on the child's thumbs or fingers, or even on a pacifier.

There are some drawbacks to this method:

*The child might get used to the taste and it may become ineffective.

*You may end up inadvertently getting it on yourself and ending up with a nasty flavor in your mouth all day.

*Children may dislike the taste so much that when they do forget and put their fingers or pacifier in their mouth it results in a meltdown several times a day.

I hope these tips have helped you. I would love to know what you try and what you had success with. If there is something you tried that wasn't on this list, I would love to hear about it. Send me an email, or a message through Facebook or Instagram and tell me your stories!

Other information sources:

98 views15 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Formative and Summative Assessments Formative assessments occur during the learning process and provide feedback to students on their progress and understanding. They are often low-stakes assessments such as quizzes, homework, or class activities. Summative assessments, on the other hand, occur at the end of a unit or write my assignment and measure overall learning outcomes and mastery. Examples include final exams, major projects, and comprehensive assessments


With our excellent streaming service, which offers a variety of channels with your favorite material, you may enjoy unmatched pleasure. The best IPTV provider in USA is Holiday IPTV, which has a wide range of Indian IPTV channels from Pakistan and India. Whether you're looking for Pakistani IPTV channels in USA or Indian content, our IPTV service guarantees a smooth watching experience. With the extensive channel choice of Holiday IPTV, you may have the best of both worlds. With Holiday IPTV, you can enjoy premium Indian and Pakistani IPTV channels and take your pleasure to new levels. Sign up now. Can get high quality videos wherver you are in India, USA UAE, Canada or in Singapore grab it now!


In the USA, Best IPTV Solutions provides a wide selection of IPTV channels, including Hindi and English selections. Discover a wide range of Hindi IPTV channels with the best-rated series, films, and live events, in addition to an extensive assortment of English entertainment. Being one of the top IPTV providers in the USA, we guarantee excellent streaming at the most competitive price. With the help of Best IPTV Solutions, you may have uninterrupted access to your preferred Hindi and English IPTV channels in USA. With our premium IPTV services, you may access countless entertainment options by subscribing now. Can get high quality videos wherver you are in India, USA UAE, Canada or in Singapore grab it now!


Dive into adventure with Petro Divers, the premier dive center in Mallorca. Offering expert-led tauchbasis Mallorca, we cater to beginners and seasoned divers alike. Our courses cover everything from basic skills to advanced techniques, ensuring a safe and thrilling underwater experience. Discover vibrant marine life and stunning dive sites under the guidance of our experienced instructors. Whether you're seeking certification or simply want to explore Mallorca's underwater beauty, Petro Divers is the perfect cursos de buceo Mallorca for you. Book your diving course today and embark on an unforgettable journey beneath the waves.


If you work in construction, then you will be well aware of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). The CIS is a set of regulations that govern how contractors and subcontractors operate in the construction industry. As a result of the CIS, contractors are required to deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it on to HMRC. This money is then used to help fund various construction projects around the UK. If you are a contractor, then you will need to submit a monthly return to HMRC. This return must be submitted by the 10th of the following month. For example, if you run a payroll in February, your return must be submitted by 10th March. If you are looking for…

bottom of page