Twenty One Days

I once read somewhere that it takes 21 days to break a habit.

We have been working with Landon on breaking his habit: sucking his thumb. 

On his 4th birthday we took away his jammies. We had prepped him for a few months that on his birthday he would say good bye to his jammies.  If he had his jammies, he sucked his thumb. No jammies, no thumb.  The jammies were kept on his bed and he could have them at naptime and bedtime.

His birthday came. The jammies went. He found a new comfort item and continued to suck his thumb.

I talked to the dentist. I talked to the pediatrician. Both of them said, he will grow out of it and there is really nothing we can do to stop the thumb sucking.

Some friends of ours told us that they had let their son pick out any toy he wanted (within reason) from the store if he stopped sucking his fingers. The boy did it in 4 sleeps!  

I am not above bribery if it will encourage him to stop sucking his thumb. 

I offered Landon the chance to go to the store and pick out something he wants if he can go 21 days without sucking his thumb.  He was strongly opposed to the idea at first. Then I think his older sister enlightened him on what kinds of things he might get at the store.

He decided one night to put his blanket in the closet and go to bed without it.

Night one, night two, night three, night four, night five..... going well. He hasn't asked for his blanket and has been going to bed like a champ.

Then yesterday I asked him to lay down for a bit in the afternoon and here is what I find:
He told me he can sleep at night without his blanket and sucking his thumb cause its a long time but naps are too short and he needs his blanket (which leads to sucking his thumb).  
Anyone else have a thumb sucker? Any ideas on how to break the habit? It was really cute when he started sucking his thumb at 6 months of age, but now that he is 4 1/2, not so cute.  


Dave and Jenni said...

Let me know if you get any good advice because Anna is a thumb-sucker and we will be crossing this bridge sooner or later!

joy said...

i'll be watching for any advice you get as well. i have a thumb sucker and a finger sucker.

Kym said...

Tough one. I have not had thumb suckers. But FYI, it is actually 42 days to break or make a habit. That translates to 6 weeks. That time can seem an eternity, especially to a little one. However, it seems kids can break habits much quicker than adults. They will be at risk of lapsing into their old habits when faced with any of the HALT symptoms (hungry, angry, lonely and especially tired) depending on the habit. For Landon, tired is going to let his guard down, no matter how committed he is to the change. I have heard of people using that yucky tasting nail polish on the thumb nail so that when they are tired and the thumb enters the mouth the gross taste will stop the action. I don't know...

Rachel Slagle said...

i was a thumb sucker until i was 7! my mom tried the nasty nail polish but that didn't work. i got bribed with a trip to disneyland and that totally worked - never did it again :) (i realize that's a bit far for you :)) i have heard of putting hot sauce on fingers for nail bitters - maybe this would work for a thumb sucker as well?

Janelle said...

Girl, do I have a story for you!

My daughter was an avid thumb sucker. She was almost 3 when she was "helping" Daddy shave. He would hand her the razor and she would swish the foam off in the sink for him. One day she touched the razor with her sucking thumb.


Needless to say, this cured it for her. She wouldn't suck through the bandaid.

I AM NOT ADVISING THIS! :) But just between you and me, we were thrilled!

Shan said...

I like the Disneyland idea, cuz then you could stay with ME :)

Laura said...

My kids haven't been thumb-suckers either, except for when they are teething. I used to bite my nails, but I stopped when a teacher told me that when a nailbiter dies, autopsies show bits of fingernails in the lungs. That cured me. :)

Dave Roever (an evangelist I know who was badly injured in the Viet Nam war) likes to show kids where his thumb used to be and say, "Don't suck your thumb, Man!" Seems to shock them into giving it up.

Krista said...

Let me know what you figure out because I have a finger sucker!

What about trying that nasty tasting nail polish that people us to stop biting their nails?

Denise said...

no really, how do you take away something that is attached to you?
good luck with this one.
straight-jacket might work.

just kidding..really i'm kidding!
but it could work :-)

I'm Tara. said...

Here's a book you might want to check out.


I sucked two of my fingers and can still remember doing it in the car and hiding behind my coat or my other hand. That's a toughie.

I'm trying to be a better bloggy friend these days. :)