Thumb and Finger Sucking Is A Frustrating Issue!
Have you heard the familiar,
"But, Mommy, really, I AM trying to stop...
it's just SO hard..."
The vast majority of parents whose children I work with have! They know their child is trying. They see them struggle daily. They see their thumb habit become more and more engrained the more frustrated they become. They watch their child's spirit plummeting on a daily basis. Then, they finally make the call!
It is an amazing transformation I witness everyday,
and it is why I do what I do!
Seeing a child succeed is my passion!
Parents want to see their child succeed. Children know it's time to stop. They really do WANT to stop, but they "just can't". They try on their own and fail -- not because they want to fail -- it's just beyond them. Parents want to help. They try everything -- bribery, pepper, threats. Their attempts last a day at best. The frustration level rises, as oftentimes, does conflict.
"How can we do this -- it's such a BIG issue. It's overwhelming! All we need is a little help... some good advice. Someone to be there when the going gets tough. Someone to walk us through this process. We know it won't be easy. No one said raising a child would be. We know it's OK to ask for help...we just need someone who we can trust to help our family...to help our child now..."
"There MUST be someone out there who can help!"
Help Is Out There - I Can Help!
My job is simple - provide guidance, support and proven strategies to make this celebration of thumbsucking elimination as easy, rewarding, and fun as it possibly can be! Ask your dentist, physician, or LSP about the program.
Using a "kinder-gentler" program based on behavior modification, support, encouragement, and positive reinforcement, most children who are ready will overcome their thumb habit the first session.
90%-95% of all clients seen either significantly alter their
thumbsucking or quit within 1-3 days!
My program is based on behavior modification and positive reinforcement.
For many children, this time is one of the hardest times in their lives. I am there for them to help them get through it. On our first appointment, we talk, we explore, we brainstorm, we decide if the time is right to stop thumbsucking, -- and we do it! This is a mutual decision between the child, parent, and myself. On that day, I provide the gentle reminding supplies needed for the best measure of success along with my proven program that has worked consistently over the past twelve years. My plan works, and if the parent and child are ready, dedicated, and consistent, success will follow!
Continuous positive reinforcement
Your child will call me daily to talk. I will see them in my office again at approx. 10, 20, 30, and 60 days, for a total of five visits in The Thumb Program. This allows them to receive the positive reinforcement and encouragement so vital to success, and emotional support needed during a challenging moment.
When we have reached the milestone of 30 days no thumb, it's "Thumb and Finger Day", and I throw a party; cupcakes, beverages, praise, and maybe even a "special something" to mark what may truly be your child's most significant childhood accomplishment.
Also, I will observe their orofacial muscle function, lip strength, tongue behavior, and swallow/chewing patterns. On request, a record of my observations may be sent to their referring dentists and doctors who participate in that child's well-being. Over 85% of children who suck their thumbs beyond age 5 may have difficulties with tongue and oral muscle movement, speech, swallowing, chewing, crowded bites, or lip closure due to functional and structural changes which may have occurred from prolonged thumbsucking. We want to know if any of these are an issue so that your child can be referred to the proper resources, and so that I may provide exercises to encourage positive muscle function, which contributes to proper oral and facial growth and development.
Thumb and Tongue Thrusting FYI
Why Children Suck Their Thumbs
Babies begin life with the need to suck. They must suck to survive. They associate sucking with warmth, milk, love, and tenderness. All those positive feelings make it very easy for thumbsucking to become a habit well beyond the point of necessity. Childhood thumbsucking beyond age 5 is aHABIT -- nothing more, nothing less. There comes a point in time when children truly want to stop, but often the habit has persisted for so long and is so ingrained, they cannot stop on their own.
What Are the Risks in Regards to Retained Sucking Behaviors?
As noted above, over 85% of children who suck their fingers and thumbs past age 4-5 may develop dental concerns, speech problems, tongue thrust swallows, or exhibit flaccid weak tongues and lips. As far as the tongue, the tongue is forced downward in the mouth by the thumb, and the lips lose muscle tone. A habit of a low rest position of the tongue results. (Up to age 4-6, the tongue normally rests in the roof of the mouth to help mold and shape proper palatal form.) These muscle issues can all be addressed through orofacial myofunctional retraining exercises for the muscles of the lips, face, and tongue to restore proper muscular usage patterns. When tongue thrust habit exists, this particular tongue habit can take many additional sessions to improve this issue...often this must be done beyond the 5 visit thumb program. It takes teamwork, and dedication. And, most commonly, it is a dentist or speech pathologist that refers a client to me for this more extensive tongue thrust attention as structural, muscular, or speech concerns become more readily apparent by their professional watchful eyes as time goes on. But one thing is certain...unless the oral habit is eradicated, the issues with tongue thrust or low rest posture of the tongue will most likely persist! In addition, much emerging research is developing regarding the narrow structure that most children with thumbsucking may display. It is believed this actually can lead to functional breathing issues in some children, and new research shows this may also impact the airway over time if the narrowing of the structure and low tongue tone issues persist. Narrow airways and poor breathing can lead to sleep issues in children. A child needs to learn to rest the tongue in the roof and as part of a team effort, breathe thru the nose.
If you go to the "Educational Info" section of this website, there is an excellent article in PDF form entitled, "That Little Thumb...." that discusses the topic of thumb and finger sucking more thoroughly, in much greater detail. It has been read by thousands of parents and professionals over the last decade, and is one of the most popular publications on this topic on the web.
CERTIFIED OROFACIAL MYOLOGISTS ARE PROFESSIONALS WHO SPECIALIZE EXCLUSIVELY IN ORAL HABIT ELIMINATION TECHNIQUES.
Children Who Mouthbreathe Can Also Develop These Tongue Thrust Habits and Many of My Clients Come Exclusively Just for Tongue Thrust
Children with allergies, tonsil and adenoid problems, sinus and recurrent colds frequently develop problems with weak and flaccid tongue and lip muscles. When children chronically breathe through their mouths, these orofacial muscles become accustomed to being passively held in a weak, low resting position. Soon it becomes habit to hold a tongue low and lips open, and the muscles lose their tone from disuse. This habit can persist long after the nasal passage is cleared. An orofacial myofunctional imbalance and irregular muscular patterns may result. A pattern of poor oral structural growth may be encouraged as a result.
What Exactly is Involved With Orofacial Myology for Tongue Thrust?
Once the nasal area has been discussed/monitored by their M.D., or the thumb habit is conquered, children may begin their oral muscular exercise program. They will visit my office weekly for 6-8 weeks, and then bi-monthly, and then monthly, for a total of approx. 12-15 visits. Since every child is different, time may vary.
First we work on muscle retraining, then swallow patterns, and finally, we make the new learned behavior a habit. In the process of oral myology, your child will work with a custom plan I personally design for them to aid in improving muscle tone and closure of the lips. The results from this type of retraining are excellent. We take photos along the way to monitor all the changes that occur. This is my favorite part - it is great to see all the progress! If there is an underlying medial cause, this must be attended to in order to anticipate improvement in poor oral postures as part of a team effort between that child's MD, DDS, and myself, the COM.
What To Look For If You Suspect an Orofacial Myofunctional Issue/Tongue Thrust Pattern:
- Habitual mouthbreathing
- Lips apart at rest, especially in the presence of a protrusive, visible tongue or dropped jaw
- Forward visible tongue during eating or rest
- Facial smirk or grimace during swallow
- Lower lip squeeze or inversion during swallowing
- Golf ball appearance to chin with a swallow
- Speech difficulties - especially n,t,d,l,s,z,r,k,j,sh,ch, and g
- Messy eating, drooling, and avoidance of food textures/limited texture preference, etc.
- Teeth that are visible in the presence of an arched upper lip
- A "bobbing head" at the completion of a swallow, or eye closure, gagging, or hesitation at the end of a swallow
NEVER HESITATE TO CONTACT A SPECIALIST IN THIS FIELD IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS.
Comfortable Long Grove Office, and satellite Chicago North Side office, unique interactive audio-visual technique,"kid-friendly" environment, 30-40 minute appointment time. Sessions are NEVER hurried or rushed.