Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thumb-Sucking: My Little Linus

I am a believer that every child needs a security object, be it a blanket, stuffed animal or other beloved treasure.  Having an object that makes him/her feel relaxed and calm can be a sanity saver in many situations.

My daughter has a healthy attachment to both her left thumb and two blankets which she lovingly calls, "Dora" and "Pink".  She was not a thumbsucker until the age of 2 months, when one evening she haphazardly put her thumb in her mouth and fell right asleep.  She looked so peaceful and happy, like she just found an old friend.  Since I used to suck my thumb up to the age of 5,  I have no issue whatsoever with my daughter doing this.  I guess I am a smidge biased.

Some people have made comments about the thumb-sucking to me, both family and strangers.  It always amazes me how people feel justified in judging someone else's parenting.  One absolute hideous example comes at the hand of an extended family member.  The summer my daughter was 6 months old was also the summer of our family reunion.  She was still taking 2 naps a day, the afternoon one between 2 or 3pm.  Since she was a brand new baby in the family, everyone was picking her up, touching her, and otherwise keeping her awake when she really wanted to nap.  I strolled her to less hectic part of our shelter so she could relax and sleep.  She cuddled with her blankets,  put her thumb in her mouth, and her eyes began to slowly shut.  I was turned a little bit talking to someone when I heard my daughter crying hysterically.  Much to my chagrin, my 'Aunt' pulled her thumb out of her mouth and sternly told me that is an ugly habit to start.  Habit? Yes.  Ugly?  Absolutely not!  Out of character for myself, I sternly told her to never, ever do that to a child of mine again.  At that point I realized that I was not only standing up for my daughter, but also solidifying my parenting beliefs.

My daughter is now 3 and still is a thumb-sucker, mainly when falling asleep or watching television.  She is a solid sleeper and has been since 2 months old.  She learned to self soothe and bring herself comfort.  She is happy, extroverted, and confident.  We have been to the dentist and her teeth are perfectly straight and spaced beautifully.  She has a bit of an overbite, but her dentist does not think it is related to thumb-sucking because she is not an "active" sucker.  She simply places her thumb in her mouth without sucking hard.  Not every thumb-sucker has dental issues, and not every child who does not suck his/her thumb have perfect teeth.  And these insane contraptions that have been invented to stop a child from sucking his/her thumb do more harm than good.  In due time, most children stop this habit, but it has to be their doing, and on their time.  

She is also my Little Linus.  Everywhere we go we bring her "Pink" blanket while "Dora" stays home because it is bigger and space consuming.  God forbid I would lose the blanket while running errands.  A few times I thought I misplaced it and my heart sank to my knees.  It may sound silly, but those blankets and her thumb are her complete and total comfort when Mom or Dad are not around.  It is a blessing.  Every child needs a security object, I am a staunch supporter of these lovies.

If she needs braces down the road, so be it.  That is why I have this strange thing called dental insurance.  If she continues the thumb-sucking until age 5 or 6, that is fine.  If she keeps her blankets until she is 10, that is fine, too.  These comfort habits are hers, and hers alone.  It breeds relaxation, calmness, and love.
If my daughter is happy and thriving, I am happy for her!

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