Fingers & Thumbs® Help to stop the habit of Finger and Thumb sucking | Skin Picking | Skin Biting | Compulsive Hair Pulling

Helpful tips and FAQs


Helpful tips and FAQs

We are fortunate to get a lot of feedback from adults and parents/carers about our gloves. We hope you will find the answer or helpful tip you are searching for from this page. Should you have a specific question not adressed here please do visit our facebook page where others have posted helpful tips and advice or contact us via our website here. 

Do I have to stop sucking my fingers or thumb?

No - not everyone needs to stop sucking their fingers or kick their thumb sucking habit. When we grow up most enjoy sucking thumbs or sucking fingers during sleep time or to have a 'soother' during idle times in the daytime. It has also been suggested to help to release feelings of anxiety. Needing a soother is perfectly normal and most online research suggest that the majority of children drop the habit when they are between 4 – 6 years old - just like the pacifiers are put away or the comfort blanket is left behind in the cupboard.

Who needs to stop sucking fingers and thumbs?

For some children (and adults) however it is not so easy to kick the habit and it can start causing other problems. The main issue for those not stopping when their adult teeth start coming in between 4 and 6 years old, we were told by our dentist, is that significant changes happen to the roof of the mouth and can result in unwelcome mouth malocclusion. Crooked teeth may be the result and many hours in the dentist chair might be required to fit braces to rectify the problem. This is for many children (or adults alike) not an attractive prospect and so they choose to try and stop their thumb sucking habit. 

We do recommend to check with your dentist whether they see that a problem seems to be arising before start using a glove. 

What other problems than malocclusion can arise by thumb and finger sucking in younger people? 

Some may develop painful blisters or really sore wort like hard skin caused by excessive sucking or biting the thumb or finger. As a child becomes a bit older this habit is often seen upon as being for 'small kids or babies' and so can cause embarrassment. This can result in avoiding some social interaction experiences like sleep overs with best friends or not wanting to go on an overnight trip with Scouts/Brownies or perhaps the school's planned PGL trip!

Could my teenager's thumb sucking be down to feelings of anxiety?

Yes it could! We have heard this from some parents/carers and it is a really serious issue which must never be ignored. We do recommend that you check for other reasons for the fingers and thumb sucking as a glove will only be helpful if there is talk about a habit - not if there is a deeper underlying issue that needs to be addressed! We recommend speaking to your GP or calling one of the amazing charity help lines e.g. MIND should you have any concerns regarding this.

Do I need to seek medical advice?

Where ever you have a concern about a health problem arisen by excessive finger or thumb sucking such as sore thumb blisters, nail infections or wart looking lumps we definitely recommend seeing your GP or dentist. Should you have any concerns regarding the severity of your child’s habit with sucking their fingers or thumbs or any other health related issues that may have risen from the habit always seek advice from your GP and Dentist.

How do we get started to kick the thumbs and finger sucking habit?

As with any habit it is important to find out when and where the habit is triggered. Usually this will be at night time, idle time or down to plain old boredom, comfort whilst watching the television or as with our own children on longer car journeys.

DON'T ever punish yourself or the child for sucking fingers or thumbs but do introduce a reward chart as a praise and incentive for trying and ensure you place enough gloves around the house where the habit typically kicks in. We always recommend buying more than one glove when you first start out to have at least one extra available when the other one is in the wash.

DO set rewards - then set the rules – if watching TV = the glove must go on, if going the bed = the glove goes on (and must stay on until the morning). You know yourself or your child best and so how to best encourage a behaviour of willingness to cooperate and stop the thumb sucking habit. Also we all have different opinions on what a valuable reward is.

If you have good tips to all the other adults or parents/carers also dealing with this issue right this moment please do share them via our contact page or our facebook page.

When is my child old enough to use a Fingers and Thumbs ® guard

It is suggested that most children stop the habit by themselves therefore we do not advise using the gloves for children under 4 years old. The problem starts when adult teeth come in when they are approx. 5 or 6 years old and this is when - according to our dentist - we should start being concerned about stopping the habit. 

I am an adult sucking my fingers and I would like to kick the habit. Would your gloves fit me?

Firstly - well done for trying if you would like to stop! Don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight. Just keep trying - it takes time to kick a habit! Please use our Fingers & Thumbs ® size guide to see if our standard sizes fit you. Otherwise we can offer a tailor made option if you need a different size. We offer several 'adult friendly' colours such as Deep Blue or Midnight Black should the more vibrant colours not be to your taste.

Is the 2Finger or Thumb guard also suitable for skin picking (dermatillomania) or compulsive hair pulling (trichotillomania) sufferers?

Yes absolutely but it always depends on the habit. We have learned from feedback that the most useful glove for dermatillomania and trichotillomania is the 3Finger glove and so that is why we recommend that one to help reverse those habits.

Recommendation

Helping yourself or your child to stop a body focused habit can be utterly frustrating but keep going – you will see that you and they will get there in the end!

We further recommend the below for helping you and your child:

Reward chart

Do use plenty of positive rewards - do a weekly or monthly reward chart with little treats along the way and then a big reward at the end perhaps! Encouragement and rewards gives us all a sense of achievement and we personally found that our children responded much better in wanting to stop (because after all – it is just a habit).

Nail Gel and hand crème or bitter tasting ointments (because it just doesn't taste nice)

Try basic hand crème and Mavala Stop Nail biting varnish. Please do note though that we as parents/carers are very good at telling the children to wash their hands often so these will need to be re-applied during the day.

Finger plasters

Finger Strip plasters are particularly great for finger sucking habits as they allow you or your child to wear a protective plaster which is not particularly noticeable (all we all wear plasters now and again) so does not prompt embarrassing questions and ensures that fingers or thumbs stay out of the mouth.

Fidget and Sensory gadgets

Fidget and sensory gadgets nearby can also be a great help when trying to kick a habit or compulsion - there are many available in the shops or online today such as pop games, squishy toys or push bubbles. 

Books

There are various books available so do have a look at which one might suit you  best. Most are available on Amazon.

Stop Sucking Your Thumb Stop Sucking Your Fingers by Lynda Hudson

Charlie's Thumb by Runa Mowla-Copley 

David Decides About Thumbsucking: A Story for Children, a Guide for Parents by Susan P H. D. Heitler 

Skin Picking: The Freedom we found by Annette Pasternak

Forever Marked: A Dermatillomania Diary by Angela Hartling

Useful Websites

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumb_sucking

http://www.orthodontists.org.nz/common-orthodontic-issues?id=48

http://www.brightsidedental.co.uk/blog/treatments/dental-advice/how-to-stop-thumb-sucking/

NHS on dermatillomania

OCDAction on Trichotillomania and Dermatillomania