6th grade difficult child sucking thumb

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by KTMom91, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I was in sixth grade the last two days; about half the class was familiar from previous years. One young man, M, has various issues, and spends most of his day in other classrooms, same as last year. This year, however, I noticed he was sucking his thumb while reading. I didn't notice this from him last year. He's a nice kid, polite and pleasant, and even though no one in class (including me) said anything, I can't help but think that he'll be teased/bullied once he hits junior high next year.

    Any insights on why this may have started, and any suggestions on how I can help M? I do expect to be back in that classroom again this year; the office manager schedules her platoon of subs so we stay with the same teachers; getting to know the kids and the routines make it a lot easier on all of us.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is he on the autism spectrum?
  3. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    My difficult child sucked his fingers until 6th grade as well. And yes he will be teased. In fact our Dr. told us that if his need for sucking was so strong that he continued sucking after receiving all the teasing from school then there was nothing we could do to discourage it. He recommended we not add to the stress level. We did try several different strategies. All at the request from difficult child, trying to support not nag him. None of them worked. What finally worked was through sucking hard, difficult child developed a callus on one of his fingers. husband thought it was a wart and told him warts could spread to his mouth. Then each time difficult child's mouth touched the callus he would pull the fingers out, not wanting any warts. I'm not sure that will help you, but what we learned is:

    - Be supportive, don't add to the stress level.
    - He already knows it a big teaser item.
    - He must want to stop
    - The most effective thing to stop him must remind him every time his thumb goes in his mouth
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if he's on the spectrum; he is pulled out for all academics, and grades are extremely low even with the support. He's really messy; papers galore under the desk every day, wadded up and scattered, and since I was reminding everyone else to clean up under their desk, I simply said, "M, remember to pick up under your desk before we go out to PE." No problems, he got right to it. None of the "But it's not MINE!" that I got from the others...and he did a better job. I didn't have to ask him twice.

    He's a big boy, tall and heavy, and he seems to have only one friend in class. There are a few other boys from other sixth grades he hangs with at lunch and recess, but when it's just our class, at free play PE, he's kind of lost.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My Jamie was a thumb sucker and a blankie boy for most of his life. I have no idea if he still does it or not because...well...I am not there...lol. He would still have his blankie if his first girlfriend hadnt stolen it from him. In fact, blankie was named Suckie...lol. Namely because he snuggled it up close to his face while putting his thumb in his mouth.

    I cant remember if he sucked his thumb in school or not. Kids tended not to pick on him too awful much because he was the tallest kid in the class. If it was a problem, I never knew about it. We never found a way to stop him. Either he just stopped on his own or still does it at times. I have no idea.
  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I have an adult cousin who sucked his thumb at bedtime up until he got married. Don't know if it stopped since it wasn't really a topic of discussion. Guess it was just something he couldn't sleep without.
    Anyhow, I don't know if there is much you can do about except ask him why he does it and ask him not to do it in class. It's a pretty dirty habit.
  7. okmeme

    okmeme New Member

    I sucked my thumb until I was at least 18. Just kind of stopped on its own, but I can tell that I still suck my thumb at night sometimes. I just don't worry about it. Most of my grandchildren are thumbsuckers too. May not be the cleanest habit, but I can think of worse, so we just don't push it.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I don't believe that there is any way to force someone not to do this. It is a method of self soothing that some people use for many years. My first roommate in college sucked her thumb every night. Completely denied doing it, did NOT believe she did it, thought that the picture a friend took of her asleep with her thumb in her mouth was either created on a computer (this was before photoshop was widely used and when there were few computer labs even at major universities - and NO personal computers except for TRS80s and Commodore 64s) or her friend moved her that way for the picture.

    Jessie sucked her middle fingers for years and years. Still does when she is exhausted or feels yucky. Nothing negative reduces it. My mom climbed her case for a while, even when we didn't live with them. At one point Jess refused to speak to my mom or go to her house for any reason because my mom got so forceful and negative about it. The more pressure was applied the more Jess needed to do it.

    We heard all the stories from the dentist about her teeth. For a while it looked like it was hurting her teeth. Then we had a tooth pulled that wouldn't come out, the adult tooth moved where it needed to be all by itself and the front teeth stopped sticking out. So it was NOT the sucking that caused it, though it CAN do that.

    The main reason that I did NOT try to force Jess to stop is that she will find some other way to self soothe. I know a LOT of people who started smoking because they had a strong need for oral stimulation. One friend has openly said that her mom forced her to not suck her thumb so she moved to hard candy. Then she gained weight. Her mom then refused to let her have candy. She still had the need for something in her mouth and her mother thought toothpick chewing was crass and "low class". So she moved to smoking at about age 13.

    Jess has responded well to gentle reminders because she often starts sucking her fingers with-o really knowing she is doing it. As a little one she would snuggle down with her blankie and her fingers. Gma's brilliant idea was to get rid of the blankie and the sucking would go away too. NOT the way to go. Jess goes through a LOT of blankies, mostly because she doesn't care much about the fabric as long as it has a silky edging on it and isn't too heavy. So the lighter fabric gets holes. We finally got Gma to see that really BAD things could subsitute for the finger sucking, so now Gma makes blankies for jess about ever 6-8 months. Jess wraps her blanke AROUND the hand she sucks on so she cannot get the fingers in her mouth. If we see her start to suck we gently say "fingers" and NOTHING more. She usually apologizes out loud, but it is aimed at herself.

    IF you know a teacher who is close to the young man, you might ask about it. Otherwise maybe have some hard candy available and let him have a piece (or a lollipop) when you notice he is sucking. It is very much a sensory need and it will find a way to be filled regardless. It is NOT going to disappear anymore than his thumb is, so finding a substitute he can use would help. The sp ed teacher and his reg teacher might consider having a jar of hard candies available for all the kids, so that this one doesn't feel singled out.

    It is really sweet of you to care about this.
  9. Jena

    Jena New Member

    aw he sounds so sweet the big kid. that lost thing you just explained wow know it well. your a good person for trying to help yet it may just have to phase out when he's ready to let go of it. it's a self soother i'm guessing a security blanket kinda thing.

    good luck! sounds like a good kid.
  10. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Poor kid ... I know plenty of older kids and young adults that still suck their thumb .... I hope he doesn't get teased but I am sure he will ... :eek:(
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I wonder if perhaps anything stressful is going on at the home front? Or perhaps even there at school?

    Alex is a thumbsucker at 9 yrs. Normally he only does it at night. But recent stress has caused him to slip many times during the day recently.

    Travis svcked his thumb for years..........although after preschool only at night. I never said a word to him. Although my Mom road me about it constantly. He broke himself. But for years it was a way to tell if he was stressed out or sick.........both things would cause the habit to carry over into daytime hours.
  12. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I'll admit here that I was a thumb-sucker until I became a heavy smoker, too. Kiddo went from thumbsucking to nail biting and if she's really anxious she'll chew on her fingerpads to the point I have to get boxes of fingertip band-aids for her (which also bypasses the nasty nailpolish made to stop thumbsucking and nail biting).
  13. troubledheart

    troubledheart New Member

    I had to giggle a little when I read this. I too was a thumbsucker till about age 14. And now, looking back, that is about the time I started smoking also. How weird is that? I had a blankie....I had to finally get rid if it years ago. I still have "blankie" she is just new. I don't suck my thumb anymore, but get the urge to bring "blankie" up to my face when I am sitting around watching TV. My husband laughs at me, I just tell him to zip it. I was never teased, but I don't remember if I did it in school or not? My family still gives me heck about it to this day, how I sucked my thumb till I was a highschooler. OH well I say.