About two years ago Luz stopped sucking her thumb in public places and about a year ago she stopped sucking it unless she was sleeping. I am sure she will not be happy later in life when she finds out I am sharing this information with everyone, but I am only doing it in an attempt to help other moms who might be out of ideas for coercing a stubborn child to let go of his/her biggest comfort.
Luz sucked her thumb in utero...we have the ultrasound photos to prove it. I was thrilled. She could soothe herself and I would never need to mess with a pacifier (incidentally, James was never wild about pacifiers either - in fact - he had NOTHING to soothe himself with, which posed a challenge now and again). When Luz was a toddler and was still sucking her thumb it did not bother me because she looked cute doing it and it made her so peaceful. I will never forget the smile on her face when I would put her in her crib and she would curl up with her lovey (Bun-bun) and start sucking her thumb.
And it is precisely because of this love that I did not really pressure her to stop...until she turned into a little kid. I started to worry about it and I wanted to be sure that I was addressing it in the 'right' way. Everyone, even the professionals, said not to worry about it, that in time she would stop doing it and that to pressure her before she was ready to stop would be a disservice for a variety of different reasons. I was promised that she would ultimately succumb to peer pressure and stop on her own. But she didn't. And then she turned 4 and the thumb was still around. And then she turned 5 and the thumb would appear at night and that was when I started with the obsessive plans. I tried bandaids over the thumb which worked for about a month. I tried alcohol and other offensive substances on her thumb and that did not work (she would wipe it off or suck through it). I created elaborate sticker charts. In September 2010 I told Luz that she could have whatever toy she wanted in the entire world if she stopped sucking her thumb. She was enthusiastic and eager to please and many nights she would not suck her thumb at all...but not every night.
I finally gave up and took comfort in stories I heard from perfectly normal, healthy, well-adjusted adults who sucked their thumbs for many years. Some even had the misshapen thumbs to prove it. And then, one night in August 2011 a friend told me about how much she loved sucking her thumb and how her mother tried everything to get her to stop and she didn't...until...one night when her mother showed her pictures of 'buck' teeth. I raced home that night and googled 'buck' teeth on the internet and the search resulted in some nasty, offensive photographs of people with severe 'buck' teeth. I showed them to Lucy and she has not sucked her thumb since that night.
So, on Saturday, over a year after I made the promise, we headed to the Disney store so Luz could pick out a doll she has had her eye on. I give you, 6, 7 or 8 year-old Mulan from the Disney Animator collection; a decent consolation prize for giving up the thumb. James was excited about the new addition too (although he looks rather serious in this picture).