I sucked my fingers religiously until I was maybe 7 or 8; it was my way of self-soothing. I knew it bothered my mother – she’d always tell me I was going to wreck my teeth and she was right, I needed braces later on to straighten my mangled teeth – but it was something she never came down hard on me about. Eventually, I outgrew it on my own.
Neither my son nor daughter sucked their thumbs (or their fingers) when they were small, but both of them were addicted to found great pleasure in their soothers. My husband and I, admittedly, relied just as heavily on them as our children did (divorce papers were close to bring drawn if we couldn’t lay our hands on a soother come bedtime), but by the time the kids’ third birthdays rolled around I was ready to part with them. It was much easier than I anticipated, too – my kids pitched their soothers with surprisingly little fuss.
Parents in Britain have new option when it comes to weaning their tots off the thumbs: the Metamorphosis Centre. The clinic, founded by orthodontist Dr. Neil Counihan, focuses on helping break the thumb-sucking habit. “The problems start around the age of six, when permanent teeth start to come through,” he explained. “The first thing we do is educate the parent and child, and then work out what action to take.”
At seven and four respectively, my daughter and son both have lovies – stuffed animals that they sleep with each and every night – and I must admit, I’m glad that neither of them were finger-suckers like their mother, but. But. My son, it seems, has picked up on another of my bad habits, one that I’m not proud of: nail biting. For as long as can remember I’ve bitten, chewed on and picked at my nails; while there have been periods where I’ve stopped, it’s a habit I’ve never been able to kick for good. Seeing my son doing the same thing to himself has made me want to give it another go, but most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. If there was a nail-biting clinic out there, I’d probably be tempted to give it a try.
Do your kids have any ‘bad’ habits? If you’ve got a thumb-sucker, is it something that worries you?