Sunday 14 May 2017

Guest Post: 6 Steps to Effectively Break Thumb Sucking

Our guest poster Sister Asbah Alaena from the beautiful Cayman Islands, blogs at A Muslim Mama, where she shares her recipes, crafts and insights into faith and life.  Mash'Allah she is a prolific blogger with lots to share and show us including her great comics and illustrations which I am in love with.  

My eldest started sucking her thumb when she was barely days old. Instead of listening to my mom's advice of using mittens or agreeing to my husband insisting on using a dummy, I relied on Google search and concluded: 

· Thumb sucking is normal for infants
· They can self sooth themselves to sleep - avoiding much hassle for mothers 
· Most of them break this habit on their own by the time they reach their 3rd birthday
· Dummies are just germ developing site and should be avoided altogether

In the beginning, she would sleep herself, hardly cried and rather looked so cute sucking her thumb. 

But over time it worsen, at times she would suck her thumb most of the night. It was sad and heart wrenching to see and listen to the sound of her sucking her thumb.

I hoped that she would miraculously stop it by her 3rd birthday, but her dentist thought otherwise. She said my daughter needed to get rid of this habit as soon as possible because her jaws had started to de-shape. And I had to do something about it.

It came as a shock, but instead of being guilt-ridden by the 'what ifs', I decided to not react but respond to this problem and devised a guided step by step approach to help my daughter break this habit. 

1) Pray.

Allah SWT says: “And your Lord said: Supplicate to Me, I shall answer you.” [Sûrah Ghâfir: 60]  

We are helpless and powerless without the help of Allah, so we rely on Allah first and then put our effort in trying to work out a difficulty. 

Hence praying is the essence in any problem solving, I had once read that a worried mom would wake up at tahajjud and pray for her children, so if anyone is really concerned about their child and their bad habit, then they should be praying sincerely first and then finding ways to help their child. 

2) Wait.

Allah SWT says: O you who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: [Al Baqrah 153]

After praying comes the patience and perseverance.

Generally, parents know their children best. So before executing a plan they should well consider its feasibility for their children. They should ask the question if it is best now or should they wait. 

I knew me and my child was not ready to tread onto the journey of breaking the habit yet. So for next few days I decided to completely ignore her thumb sucking, and not react at all, while I continued praying earnestly to Allah to show me a way.

3) Educate

Often time’s parents repeatedly force their child, against the child's own wishes to pull her out of a habit. They harass, humiliate or use power in order to trying to teach her a concept. But this power struggle and feeling of being judged by her own parents, makes the child even more insecure and she would usually retort back to her comfort zone of thumb-sucking even more than normal.

I searched for some fun videos & cartoons to educate my daughter about thumb sucking and the consequences of this habit. She insisted on watching them over and over again with my running commentary on how thumb sucking can de-shape jaw formation in young children.

During the process she gained more awareness of exactly why she should avoid sucking her thumb, and what damage it can result in. She started to see 'thumb sucking' as a problem instead of just her comfort zone. Once she understood it, she took a decision that that she would not like her teeth like rodent and wanted me to help her get rid of it. 

4) Encouragement and Empathy 

Once a child is on the path of leaving an old habit, especially thumb sucking, she is expected to be grumpier and crankier than always. And it’s normal. She is finding that forgone comfort of thumb sucking in her parents, and parents should be in full view of the situation. They should be willing to give more attention, more compassion and concern.

There will be more tantrums, more attention seeking and even going back to the habit again and again. But a child will leave a bad habit, insha’Allah, just that it will take time, a lot of time and a lot of patience and love from parents. 

Parents need to remember that positive reinforcement and encouragement works way better and faster than being punitive and threatening. A child normally listens when he/she understands that the parent is compassionate and concerned. 

Rasool Allah ﷺ said:

Whoever is given his portion of kindness has been given his portion of goodness, and whoever is deprived of his portion of kindness has been deprived of his portion of goodness. Sunan At-Tirmidhi

And I wanted to be kind and empathetic. So, I decided to opt for reward system. My daughter loves hearing stories - I decided that I would incorporate the issue of thumb sucking in stories, like a bunny had this habit and how it worked her way out of this habit because it wasn’t a very good thing to suck thumb. This motivated her the most. Listening that her favorite characters struggle with bad habits too.

5) Use Aid 

Encouragement alone is not enough. Using any aid as a reminder for a child to avoid mindless thumb sucking is important as well.

The options available ranges from Band aids and any bitter tasting nail coats to thumb guards and even an pallet-device, which is inserted in a mouth to help a child break thumb sucking.

Band aids wasn't much help for us as my daughter had no trouble sucking her thumb with a band aid.

Thumz worked, it is a bitter tasting solution I would apply it to both of her thumbs. And it worked awesome during the day but she would still take it during nights.

So for nights I am using a mitten-like bag I sewed for her, one can simply wrap bandages on when the child is asleep.

We are still at this step at the moment, and slowly but surely she is weaning off thumb sucking. It is definitely taking long. But it took her years to build this habit and I am willing to wait a bit more till she is finally out of sucking her thumb.

6) Thank Allah.

Last step is definitely thanking Allah.

Life is nothing without gratitude. Even with our problems we should be thankful of Allah and as the problems disappear we should kneel down in front of Allah again, praising and glorifying Him, because we are helpless without his help

I hope to cry again soon, out of joy thanking Allah for the help.

Life is definitely cyclic. From prayer, to prayer.

1 comment:

  1. I am a Muslim girl from India. Hopefully, I will be able to stop thumb sucking following your effective steps.