Older Kids Who Suck Their Thumbs

“Is that thumb good?” the woman asked. “No.” replied the young girl. Then everyone laughed. The thumb sucker was about 12-years-old and the woman asking the question went on to say very loudly that her daughter had sucked her thumb until she was 21. “We tried putting everything on that thumb but she just kept right on sucking.”

I felt sorry for the kid, she was obviously embarrassed and the adult who did the embarrassing should have known better. Especially since we were standing in an area with about a dozen people within earshot of this comment.

When I was growing up, I knew several kids who sucked their thumbs. It was always odd to me to see an older child sucking their thumb. I thought it was weird and I didn’t get it but, hey, to each his own. And I was never one for teasing other kids, so I didn’t but many others did. This young girl was the oldest thumb sucker I’ve seen in many, many years.

Most babies and toddlers suck their thumb for comfort and the majority will stop on their own as they enter kindergarten. If your child is older than six and still sucking their thumb they face a host of problems including dental problems, thumb or finger infections and of course, being teased. I had always reasoned that if a much older child sucked their thumb it was the sign of an emotional problem. After this incident, which happened on Saturday, I decided to check online and the information I found did not support this theory. Most older kids want to stop but may require more help in doing so. But rarely was an emotional issue the cause of thumb sucking. What your older child requires is your positive support and guidance. They may also need the assistance from a dentist to break the habit. But again, most will stop on their own when they enter school. Peer teasing is generally enough to get them to stop.

For more on the issue of thumb sucking see:

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

The Truth About Thumb Sucking

Bucked-Tooth Baby: The Truth About Thumb Sucking