MONTESSORI TODDLER: A THUMBSUCKING UPDATE

E and V are thumbsuckers; it’s a way that they self-soothe and has been since they were young infants (more about it here). Since they suck their thumbs out of boredom, when they’re ready for a nap, or discomfort–it makes it a little easier to tell what they need. This being said, we’ve noticed a slight increase in E’s thumb-sucking which means it was time to step back and analyze.

The increase may be nothing, but I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t an underline cause. Was something in the environment causing discomfort or certain situations? So I started to keep track like I would when normally observing, but making sure to track this in particular.

We are starting to talk more about it, her and I, in regards to her emotions. “E, I see your sucking your thumb. I notice you often do this when you are feeling uncomfortable. How are you feeling? Is there something we can do to make you feel more comfortable?”

If we are in a new environment and I notice this I make sure to hold her or have her sit close so that she feels safe. If she still chooses to use her thumb for comfort or out of boredom, no problem, but at least I did what I could to make her comfortable. I’ve been told this is coddling or not preparing her for the real world–she’s two! It’s my job to make sure my child feels comfortable and safe in my presence while helping her learn coping skills and how to navigate the world.

When the thumb-sucking has been due to discomfort and we make appropriate adjustments, we have definitely noticed a positive impact. Thumb-sucking and other self-soothing/self-regulating actions is a great way to learn triggers and sensitivities to certain sensories, so I highly recommend lots of observation.

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