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Thumbsucking - A Book Review

Nov 17, 2007
As a mom with four children, all of whom were thumbsuckers when small, and all of whom stopped the habit in different ways at different ages, I understand the frustration many parents feel when trying to help their young child overcome this habit.

"David Decides About Thumbsucking" by Susan Heitler, Ph.D (printed by LK Printing Service, Inc.), is a useful tool parents can use to make sound decisions about helping their own child stop their thumbsucking habit.

This book was originally published in 1985, but I found it to be still relevant today. It begins with a story a parent can share with their thumbsucking child and will initiate the type of conversation that will be useful as a child begins to think about ending this tenacious habit.

That is the key point to successfully breaking this habit. A child must take responsibility for ending their own habit. That point cannot be overemphasized.

After the helpful story in "David Decides About Thumbsucking", you'll find a tremendously useful parent's guide that contains the following.

-- Individual sections ranging from infants to school age children with data explaining thumbsucking during these life stages.

-- Tips to help your child at whatever stage she decides to stop thumbsucking.

-- Helpful hints on using the story itself as a part of the habit-changing routine.

One of my favorite parts in this book is the habit-reversal technique which gives the child more control over changing his habit and was found by one study to increase kids' success rates. My own experience with helping my children overcome their thumbsucking habits reinforced to me that simple ideas like this can really engage the child and move them towards success.

As the author states on p. 34, "Parents do best when they couple techniques for minimizing sucking with a general attitude of acceptance."

This resource offers a helpful perspective on this habit, too, when it states (and I paraphrase) that sucking is not a sign of emotional disturbance and parents should not be in a panic about it. Rather parents should gather the facts and awareness necessary to help their child successfully navigate an important developmental milestone: recognizing and ending an outgrown habit.

It's also helpful for parents to be aware that some kids stop thumbsucking cold turkey, but others take a long time. That's okay. One of my children took a full year to stop thumbsucking, but her self-confidence bloomed as she hung in there and eventually conquered this habit.

"David Decides About Thumbsucking" reinforces the ideas that drawing attention to the child's successes, no matter how small, and understanding upfront that there may be a need for several attempts at breaking this habit are key ideas to maintaining the motivation needed to be successful.

This book will help you and your child create a team effort, which is exactly what most kids will need as they address this habit. You can use the solid ideas presented as a springboard to customize these tips for your own child.

Overall this book presents a low-key, yet firm approach for helping your child to stop his thumbsucking habit. Plus, there are additional books listed as resources in the back of the book.

Thumbsucking presents a young child and her parents with the opportunity to learn a valuable life skill; how to recognize and overcome a no longer needed habit and develop successful problem solving skills along the way. "David Decides About Thumbsucking" offers significant helps to any parent who wishes to help their child move on from this habit in a positive way.

For a copy of your own, check your local library or online bookseller.
About the Author
Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com . Visit her website and get more tips on handling thumbsucking today.
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