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Thumb sucking


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We have a little boy who loves to suck his thumb and twiddle his hair at the same time. We think it is attention seeking and have tried to ignore it as much as possible - after we tried the method of cajoling him every time the thumb went it realised that this wasn't working so resorted to the ignoring method!

 

Yesterday he spent an entire first hour just sitting sucking and twiddling with us ignoring all the time but then there was no real play. Obviously we want to address this but not give him the attention he obviously wants from us. We tried yesterday of using a feeling bag (we are looking at senses over the past week) and had quite an interest from half a dozen children gathered around with so much observation on our part. There were a couple of others playing happily with the fire engines and some others doing crafts but they were genuinely happy. This little boy just sat in the home area the whole time.

 

Any suggestions or should we just ignore ignore ignore?

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Hi i wouldn't see this as attention seeking, but more as a comforting support for him at this time. Does he appear to do it when he maybe tiring, so a sharing book, quiet area available for him might be appropriate. I certainly wouldn't be doing anything to stop this action. Unfortunately it is us as adults that get more hung up with this than anybody else.

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My friend is 47 and still does it when she's tired or really relaxed. It was for just that reason I MADE my children have a dummy, I could take that off them later on but a thumb is for life.

The only concern I would have is the formation of the front teeth and speech, but really, a comfort habit like that is very hard if not impossible to break.

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agree.. it is comfort more than attention

 

and I too made my son have a dummy, having had friends of 16 still doing it, and unable to break the habit... i could restrict the dummy thumb goes everywhere..

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My heart goes out to this little boy and there is obviously something going on that needs to be addressed. Rather than withdrawing attention from him I would be making sure he is getting lots of positive attention and praise. Perhaps if you can gain his trust he will start to gain in confidence and start to play more rather than hanging back and seeking to comfort himself.

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Poor little boy. I too think that he is obviously feeling very insecure, both thumb sucking and hair twiddling are comfort habits, which are saying something about how he is feeling. I think he needs a bit of extra TLC. I would just ignore what he is actually doing but not ignore him. I also think that making comments about not doing it is likely to make him feel even more insecure or bad about himself, so I would avoid doing that. Does he need a bit of extra attention when he arrives and somewhere quiet to sit, perhaps having a story, which other children may come and listen to if they wish? Perhaps supporting him to choose an activity which he can do with an adult at first is a way to begin to involve him in the setting. Once he is more secure in himself and beginning to enjoy being in the setting and mixing with other children, he is less likely to need self-comfort as he will be happily occupied.

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Agree with the comments above - it's his way of reassuring himself and comfort, whilst he adjusts to the setting maybe ? Suggest you talk to Mum about things that he enjoys doing at home and offer some of these activities when he is in, he needs coaxing and reassurance and am sure once he feels attached to you, he will then feel ready to join in. :1b

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My son sucked his thumb in utero. He was doing it on both scans, so probably in between too!

 

It was a habit, obviously pleasurable, and other than the occasional 'get your thumb out', said in a gentle voice, we did nothing to dissuade him. When he discovered mud and paint and those things, he stopped it by himself. When he needed two hands for something, he couldn't suck as well! It didn't show that he was anxious or distressed, we have photos of him on family walks, watching television, sitting on Grandad's knee, listening to a story etc. etc. Happy, contented and relaxed.

 

I actually wouldn't be overly concerned with this, unless he is very withdrawn when he's doing it, and obviously uneasy. Just get some fun going, a bubble machine, a parachute etc and let him enjoy himself.

 

Let Mum or Dad take the lead on this one, are they concerned about it?

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Like others I would not see the thumb sucking and hair twiddling as a behaviour I needed to address.

 

If he's choosing not to participate in play I would set the those behaviours to one side and focus on helping him to feel more confident and able to join in. I would not see the comfort behaviours as a cause of him sitting out. Once he is more settled or you have removed the barrier to his participation, whatever that may be he will be too busy using his hands to have fun to put his thumb in his mouth.

 

The only time I would ever ask a child to take their thumb out of their mouth is when they are speaking to me. This is on the advice of a SALT who suggested that children who speak with a dummy or thumb in their mouth all the time can have problems forming sounds correctly. I just ask them to take their thumb out enough to speak so that I can understand. If it goes straight back in that is fine.

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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I'm not really sure what you're worried about, terrydoo73.

 

Keep observing his behaviour and see what he is interested in - as Cait says when he finds something interesting to do that needs both hands, he'll take his thumb out of his mouth and stop twiddling by himself. Trying to actively stop him doing it when he needs to will be counter productive and would deprive him of much needed comfort.

 

Just love him for who he is, show him that you value him as a person whether he sucks his thumb or not and make him feel secure. Upsy Daisy offers good advice about what to do if he is trying to speak to you with his thumb in his mouth, and you might share this with mum and dad so that they can support his language development at home.

 

Other than that, perhaps it would help you to think carefully about what concerns you about this little boy's thumb sucking and hair twiddling. Although I don't think this is attention seeking behaviour, if you're convinced that it is, think about how you can give him the kind of attention he needs to make him feel happy and secure in your setting.

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Interesting debate.

 

Whilst a agree it's not attention seeking, I'm thinking possibly terrydoo may have just worded the post incorrectly.

 

We have a little chap- that given to his own devises he would sit with comforter in one hand and thumb of other hand in mouth for the whole session. After the first few sessions we talked with mum, it was her suggestion that we should try and remove both if possible- but in a gentle manner.

 

What we now do is, he comes in with thumb and comforter - finds himself and quite 'watching spot' then he has a 10min sandtimer, and knows when his time is up the comforter goes into bag (does this himself) and off he goes to play.

Thumb never goes in without comforter. Once the comforter is out of site, he is a totally different child- full of confidence and a leader rather than a follower in play.

 

He knows if necessary he can go and get comforter+thumb whenever her wants- along with the sandtimer for a '10min top-up'....... but he very rarely does.

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Guest terrydoo73

Firstly I have to say I personally do not have a problem with this situation - it was drawn to my attention by my Deputy and Volunteer who I continually heard them saying "take your thumb out of your mouth M" and at the end of the session heard them both talking about it and my Deputy quickly saying "it's just attention seeking I think".

 

This is the same little boy we have had problems with up until this week with his toilet training. We have found we have to keep an eye on him constantly as he still refuses to tell us when he needs the toilet and several times have noticed him straining and we move him quickly to the bathroom without too much fuss. The thumb sucking has become noticeable just in the past week - it was happening before this but more predominant now. We were off on a weeks holiday for half term and since he came back he has had no difficulty in parting from dad in the morning - an issue we had before half term. The thumb sucking starts immediately he comes in each morning - he simply finds a chair in the playroom - dough table, home corner, couch etc and remains with this motion for considerable period of time.

 

Weighing it up and thinking it over as I read your replies I do remember him coming a couple of mornings and playing in the water tray so I think it is related to tiredness rather than attention seeking as such. We mentioned to dad about the possibility of being tired and dad was very adamant that he goes to bed every night at 7 and does not get up to 7 the following morning but we question this as with the toilet training - when asked if he was ok with the toilet at home we were reassured that he had no problems and then as the weeks went on we discovered that the child was being put into training pants on leaving us or his childminder!

 

The thumb sucking has caused us problems in that he is withdrawing more and more into himself, not talking and refusing point blank to do as we ask ie come and have some snack and the child shakes the head repeatedly, lets go outside with all the other boys and girls and again the head shaking and refusing to move from where he is. Then when we get outside eventually he starts to cry when he sees a child with a toy he wants to play with and goes into hysterics just because he cannot have it there and then.

 

We really don't know what to do to make him feel secure and happy with us as he is non communicative and seems happiest when on his own - the language he uses then is very interesting to say the least! Perhaps something is happening at home that is impacting on his need to feel secure but how would you ever really find that out fully?

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Guest terrydoo73

Interesting debate.

 

Whilst a agree it's not attention seeking, I'm thinking possibly terrydoo may have just worded the post incorrectly.

 

We have a little chap- that given to his own devises he would sit with comforter in one hand and thumb of other hand in mouth for the whole session. After the first few sessions we talked with mum, it was her suggestion that we should try and remove both if possible- but in a gentle manner.

 

What we now do is, he comes in with thumb and comforter - finds himself and quite 'watching spot' then he has a 10min sandtimer, and knows when his time is up the comforter goes into bag (does this himself) and off he goes to play.

Thumb never goes in without comforter. Once the comforter is out of site, he is a totally different child- full of confidence and a leader rather than a follower in play.

 

He knows if necessary he can go and get comforter+thumb whenever her wants- along with the sandtimer for a '10min top-up'....... but he very rarely does.

 

Thank you for this louby loo - yes I think this is more what I was looking for! I know it would be "easy" to just let him get on with this action but I think I need to address it as Leader because I have noticed my Deputy pointing it out and making an issue of it. I am constantly doing this as a Leader - thinking to myself well is it an issue that needs addressed or just ignored, what can I do to encourage my staff and volunteers to think through the issues concerned with this and do something constructive rather than just moan all the time because that is what it sounds like to me. To mention it to my Deputy well I would just get my head cut off immediately because that is her normal approach and I have to bite my tongue more times that enough. However I do think through things so that I am ready when my Deputy actually mentions it as her concern then I can show I have thought about it too!!

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So he previously had difficulty separating from dad in the morning but now has done this successfully but is sucking his thumb more? Perhaps he is compensating at the moment, finding a way to deal with his feelings. Separation is a complex business and he may just need to seek a little bit of comfort at the moment. Patience might be your best ally here - keep a close eye on him, keep encouraging him to join in and make the most of your opportunities when he does engage (bit like you're doing with the toilet training).

 

As for your Deputy, if you don't really think this is a big issue to be concerned about, then you need to tell her so. At some point she is going to have to get used to you stating your opinion firmly and leading the team to support children in ways that will give them security and help them develop independence.

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As for your Deputy, if you don't really think this is a big issue to be concerned about, then you need to tell her so. At some point she is going to have to get used to you stating your opinion firmly and leading the team to support children in ways that will give them security and help them develop independence.

 

Absolutely!

 

Why, oh why does she label any 'behaviours' as 'attention seeking'? (From reading other posts this seems to be her description of almost any behaviours that a child exhibits) Thumb sucking and twiddling, as others have said are comfort seeking not attention seeking.

 

I would give him some lovely gentle one-to-one support - a story of his own choosing would be my first idea.

 

My youngest son was a 'thumb sucker' and to be honest it infuriated me whenever anyone mentioned it........he was a very able little boy, with super clear speech and I could not see why his thumb sucking gave anyone a 'problem' - it certainly didn't worry me at all........

 

Please, please stand up to your deputy - I'm not sure what her qualifications are but her understanding of child development seems to be seriously lacking to me.............

 

Good luck with it all terrydoo :1b

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My youngest daughter (5) is a thumb sucker my elder 2 children had dummies for a couple of months and then i withdrew them ASAP. My daughter found her thumb at about 2 weeks old and has never been without it since. It is certainly not attention seeking. She is the calmest and most chilled of my 3 children, I think because she was able to sooth herself from a young age (she also slept 12 hours through the night at 5 weeks old-I wasn't going to complain about that!) At 5 she now only uses her thumb at times of stress or tiredness so more towards the end of the week. I would ignore the thumb sucking in this child it is obviously something he finds comfort in and needs in the same way as another child finds comfort in having a blanket or cuddly toy with them at all times. I would introduce him to lots of things that mean he has to use both hands rather than drawing attention to it.

good luck

Deb

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You know........................I would make your deputy go sit in a quiet corner and suck her thumb and twiddle her hair for an hour or two. She drives me mad and the sooner you get rid of her, the better for you and the children she professes to 'care' for. She always seems to have a very negative aspect for all things the children do, and I have to say, it is YOUR job to tell her to either take a hike, or get to grips witht he fact that all children have their own particular little foibles, just as we adullts do. If she arrived one morning with a positive attitude and simply praised the children instead of looking for stuff to whinge about, you might ALL reap the benefit of a happy atmosphere. There's a challenge for her.....and you!

 

Just reading this back, I feel I ought to apologise.........but then again, my gut instinct tells me not to! :ph34r:

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You know........................I would make your deputy go sit in a quiet corner and suck her thumb and twiddle her hair for an hour or two. She drives me mad and the sooner you get rid of her, the better for you and the children she professes to 'care' for. She always seems to have a very negative aspect for all things the children do, and I have to say, it is YOUR job to tell her to either take a hike, or get to grips witht he fact that all children have their own particular little foibles, just as we adullts do. If she arrived one morning with a positive attitude and simply praised the children instead of looking for stuff to whinge about, you might ALL reap the benefit of a happy atmosphere. There's a challenge for her.....and you!

 

Just reading this back, I feel I ought to apologise.........but then again, my gut instinct tells me not to! :ph34r:

 

Couldn't have put it better myself - especially the 'she drives me mad' bit.........

 

I acknowledge that it's difficult for you terrydoo and I admire the way that you post on here to seek advice - but, blimey it's time she went

 

I've been away 'brooding' about this and I felt moved to return - sorry - I probably 'drive you mad' - but I have a question for you.......does your deputy 'ever' behave in a positive way? From reading your posts her 'negativity' screams out to me and frankly I find it very, very worrying - but I wonder if I have it all wrong - so tell me does she have any redeeming qualities???

Edited by sunnyday
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I think it is perhaps wise to consider sunnyday's signature when suggesting how Terrydoo can support her staff member both to recognise Terrydoo's seniority and also how to support children effectively and equitably.

 

The bottom line must be absolutely to meet children's needs, however in helping practitioners develop and adapt their practice we need to consider their journey through their own life to the point at which they find themselves today. We're all a product of our own upbringing, childhood and our later experiences either confirm or challenge our internal view of ourselves as a result of those early experiences. I wonder if behind the facade of the strong, uncompromising practitioner Terrydoo describes there is in fact a scared, unconfident practitioner struggling to keep in touch with an ever changing landscape. If you come from a 'children are seen and not heard' background it must be a bewildering place in today's more child-centred world.

 

We don't know Terrydoo's deputy and it is easy to condemn her on the facts that we've been given. She certainly needs strong leadership and management, but also support and training to enable her to reflect on her own practice and begin to make the changes we'd like to see. Behaviour is easy to challenge, but attitudes are hard to change without a lot of understanding and patience.

 

Of course it may be that ultimately she is so stuck in her ways that she can't change and at that point it might be necessary for her to find alternative employment. However good employment practice demands that she is given support and time to attempt to identify and then make the changes necessary - otherwise Terrydoo's setting is likely to find itself on the wrong end of an industrial tribunal claim which is unpleasant for everyone.

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Happymaz, I hear what you are saying, and consider myself told off, my last comment was rather flippant it has to be said! However, there is a wealth of training available to all of us these days, training that helps to improve our practice and to understand where children 'are at'. It also seems to me that this lady is very determined about voicing her opinion, much of which from terrydoos descriptions, is negative. That cannot be good for the children and it is right, surely, that such practice is challenged effectively, in order that children in her care flourish and are not told off when they need to suck their thumb, or indulge in other comfort-seeking measures. Sometimes, the question needs to be asked about why the child is seeking comfort? Are their needs being met or not? It is very hard, but sometimes, there are people who simply aren't cut out for working with children and those people need weeding out. Who do you put first....the child, or the practitioner? In an ideal world, of course, everyone who works within childcare is wonderful, well trained, well paid and very happy in their work. But sometimes they are not happy and not cut out for the work................in which case, it needs to be tackled.

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Yes, I hear you too maz.......and I really try to be as kind as I can be in my posts - possibly I need to try harder.........I don't know - that is for others to judge.

 

I find it painful and I use that word in all seriousness to read some of these posts outlining what this lady has done and said.......which was why I asked the question re redeeming features - perhaps she has some - I don't know and genuinely want to find out.

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Far be it for me to tell anybody off ladies, and that honestly wasn't what I intended so I"m sorry if you feel as if I've banished you to the naughty chair! I know that what you're saying comes very strongly from the point of view that children's needs must be met effectively in order for them to grow and develop. No-one who has read either of your posts could doubt where your priorities lie.

 

I couldn't agree more that sometimes the very people who shouldn't be working with children are the very ones who seek out this kind of work. I have a theory that people whose needs are least met seek out work in the caring professions so that they can get their own needs met vicariously through meeting the needs of others. However that's another story.

 

I agree that the situation needs to be tackled (and the sooner the better, in my opinion), but even if she ultimately decides working with children isn't for her, she'll need support and guidance. She needs this either so that she can make the decision for herself, or so that she can understand why a decision might ultimately be made to terminate her employment with the setting.

 

sunnyday you make a valid point about redeeming features - perhaps a long heart to heart discussion is needed to identify what is going on for this lady and what motivates her to do the work she does. If there are similarities in philosophy to build on it is sometimes easier to work on the areas of conflict where ideas differ. Understanding how the other person thinks and feels is key to building a co-operative relationship.

 

If only Terrydoo's deputy could get herself on a course where she is expected to reflect on incidents such as the ones we've been reading about her, and get some support to explore why she responds in the way she does, I think she'd go an awfully long way to seeing things from the children's perspective. That said, I agree with you narnia that there is a 'leading the horse to water' aspect of this conundrum.

 

Ultimately only she can decide whether she wants to change, but first she needs people around her to challenge her when they disagree with her approach. Tiptoeing around a team member because you're afraid of the result if you express an opposing position merely validates their approach and tells them that they're right.

 

As you say narnia, that's a challenge for Terrydoo but also for everyone connected with the setting - a united front is most effective here.

 

I really hope it gets resolved soon.

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Naughty chair?? for me?? nah, not something I'd be worried about. It's good on here, we can say what we feel, honestly and without feeling that we're being told off. Of course, I am definately too old and too thick-skinned to think I was literally being told off!

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mmh i dont really know what to say! :mellow: All i can add is some of the changes happening to childcare in ni (long overdue may i add) are excting, scary and a lot of other emotions all rolled in there to boot. When reflecting on my own experiences, i see staff from local settings who are worried that their practice is going to be judged unfairly and time scales imposed by the powers that be which are totally unrealistic to embed the changes successfully in weaker settings imo. In addition managers are trying to interpret changes to their settings with little or no guidance from their registering bodies. imo more emphasis needs to be placed on developing stronger training provision. i can count on one hand how many staff i have met recently who can reflect on their own experiences / practices.

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mmh i dont really know what to say! :mellow: All i can add is some of the changes happening to childcare in ni (long overdue may i add) are excting, scary and a lot of other emotions all rolled in there to boot. When reflecting on my own experiences, i see staff from local settings who are worried that their practice is going to be judged unfairly and time scales imposed by the powers that be which are totally unrealistic to embed the changes successfully in weaker settings imo. In addition managers are trying to interpret changes to their settings with little or no guidance from their registering bodies. imo more emphasis needs to be placed on developing stronger training provision. i can count on one hand how many staff i have met recently who can reflect on their own experiences / practices.

 

Hi Sox

Glad that you have joined the 'debate' as you have far more knowledge of the 'set up' in NI..........

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