Pacifier Finger And Thumb Sucking

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According to the authors of 'Oral Habits: A Behavioral Approach' (Peterson & Schneider, 1991): 'Some 13% to 45% of children are reported to suck their digits. Practically all children who eventually take up the habit do so during their first few months. By 3.5 to 4 years of age, most children have discontinued the habit spontaneously. The severity and even presence of deleterious effects of finger sucking depends on the habit's frequency, duration, intensity, and position of the finger in the mouth. Dentoalveolar changes associated with thumb-sucking include anterior open bite accompanied by decreased alveolar bone growth. If the habit continues beyond puberty, these problems do not usually self-correct.'

Cessation of finger sucking may be approached in a number of ways. Finger sucking is frequently accompanied by possession and manipulation of a favored object, such as a doll or blanket. Removal of the object has been shown to eliminate the finger sucking as well. Explaining to the child the association between the habit and the object and subsequent confiscation of the object may aid in elimination of the finger sucking.

The application of a bitter solution to the thumb has empirically absolved finger suckers of the habit. A 'hayrake' attached to a palatal bar fixed to the molars that does not interfere with occlusion reminds the child of the habit, and has shown to be quite effective even for an intense habit. Lingual spurs attached to the maxillary incisor bands also act as a reminder appliance.

The effectiveness of psychotherapeutic counseling has also been shown to be high. Intellectual/emotional/hypnotic approaches are of particular interest here. The use of age regression/progression has been shown by Crasilneck & Hall (1985, 1990) to be very effective. The authors suggest that the child's feelings for personal appearance be elicited, and an appeal is made to the child's desire to be more mature and attractive.

If there is an underlying traumatic or symbolic basis for the thumb sucking, it can usually be clarified by an interview under hypnosis, utilizing either the fantasized theater technique or using age regression to the time when thumb sucking would ordinarily have been given up as an outworn habit. If such dynamics are uncovered, their working through must become a primary goal of treatment.

Under hypnosis, the child is told that the thumb will begin to taste bitter and that this will act as a reminder that the wish to suck the thumb is gone. The child is told that should the thumb come to the mouth, the bitter taste will be the motive to move the thumb away. Any improvement is given immediate and ample praise, both to the child and the parents, as the symptom has usually become a focus of hostile interaction between parents and child. Self-hypnosis is quite often taught in the control of this problem.

Another favorite approach is based on Milton H. Erickson's 'Be Fair to Fingers'. The statement is made that the right thumb is entitled to the same attention as the left thumb. The result is that as both thumbs are sucked, sucking the left thumb is cut by about 50%. The habit is naturally reduced. 'The right thumb hasn't had a turn; the first finger hasn't had a turn; not a single other finger has had a turn. So now, be fair and give each of the fingers a proper turn' (Erickson, 1990).

After the child has been given these suggestions, the parent is called in and instructed to help remind the child to suck all the fingers. Parents and children are usually pleased with this approach because it shifts all the energy from what not to do, to a positive attention-getter that gets old quickly. Results are very favorable.

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Hypnotherapy Healing

Hypnotherapy Healing

Loosely explained, hypnotherapy is an exercise of therapy which induces a deep relaxation state of body and mind and then uses this state of mind to introduce ideas or images into the consciousness.

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