Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Thumb Sucking Problem and Comfort objects

At about six months of age, your baby begins to sense for the first time that he is separate from you. He craves more independence, yet at the same time the child feels acutely anxious about losing his closeness to you. He may respond to this conflict by striking a compromise and clinging to a substitute parent in the form of a teddy bear, blanket or pacifier. This object is something the child can control, and it offers comfort and familiarity.
 It does no harm for a child whose social skills are developing well to become entranced with a comfort object. He may talk with it, invest it with special powers, weave rituals around it, even become attached to its grubbiness or smell. Do not try to take his object away from him. The youngster will most likely out grow his need for it between the ages of two and five.
However, there are some things you can do to limit the habit and make it easier for you to live with it. In the early stages you can restrict use of the comfort object to hoe or bedtime. When the object gets dirty, wash it while the child is asleep. It is a blanket, cut a piece of it off to save as a backup in case he loses the prized object- unless you  think you and your child can survive “ cold –turkey” withdrawal.
Remind him occasionally that when he is a big boy he will no longer needs his special comforter. Of course, you should not accept any and all uses of a comfort object. For example, do not let your child keep a feeding bottle in his bed and fall asleep sucking it; not only emotional attachment, but tooth decay as well, could result.