My daughter sucks her thumb. How can I get her to stop?

My seven-year-old daughter sucks her thumb. I’ve tried everything to get her to stop–rewards, sticker charts, special treats, and we’ve even tried punishments like no dessert and no television. Nothing works and I’m at my wits’ end. The main challenge with the thumb-sucking is that she can do it any time while she’s away from me or hiding, so it’s very difficult to control. Her pediatrician didn’t have any good advice for me and the next step I’m thinking is to take her to a psychiatrist. I thought I would check in with you to see if you had any good ideas…

Find a picture online of a scary old woman who’s missing a thumb, print it out, frame it, and hang it over her bed. Light it well so she can see it when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Tell her this is what happens to girls who suck their thumbs…they get old and scary looking and their thumbs fall off. Maybe pair it with a picture of a woman with no teeth and tell her it’s going to make her teeth fall out.

Or, every time you catch her sucking her thumb, scream at her as loudly and suddenly as you can: STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. Sneaking up on her before you shout it will get maximum impact.Write back to me if you need help with the sudden pants-wetting problems she’s recently developed.

As a last-ditch effort, you could just chill out and leave her the hell alone. I’ve never met a grown woman who sucks her thumb (or at least one who does it in public), so just get over your control issues and let her work it out on her own.

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