Friday, April 3, 2009

Nasty Habits

Here's something to think about
Where would we be without
nasty habits, nasty habits

Makes me want to scream and shout

Life would be so dull without
nasty habits, nasty habits

"Nasty Habits"
- Oingo Boingo

I have a confession to make. I'm 42 years old & I still chew my fingernails (or more precisely, my cuticles). I've done this since I was a little girl. It used to make my mom completely INSANE. She tried everything to get me to stop, but nothing could keep me from it. Nothing.

Ok so yeah, I only chew on my cuticles nowadays, but still, it's pretty gross right? People have taken pictures of me w/ my hands stuffed in my face chewing away like I'm munching on a yummy snack. It's kind of horrifying to see the "evidence" there in living color. I don't know WHY I do it, other than it's a nervous habit that has just become a part of me, like a tic or something.

The reason I bring this up is b/c my daughter sucks her thumb. She never had a thing for a pacifier or a Binky & she's never been the kind of kid that needs a specific blanket or stuffed animal to go w/ her everywhere (thank G-d), but I'm kind of over the thumb sucking thing. She's cute as a button when she does it, there's this little dimple that forms in her cheek that is SO darling I wanna pinch her, but I have to admit it's starting to affect her teeth. And that reminds me of my brother, who sucked his thumb until he was a pre-teen. He had the whole works done on his teeth... headgear, braces, retainers, etc. Dex is already likely to end up w/ a mouth full of teeth straightening metal anyway b/c of her dad's side of the family, but man, it would sure be nice if she DIDN'T.

I know I can't control how her teeth turn out. But really, isn't there some way I can encourage her to stop sucking her thumb? Or should I just not worry about it unless she's still doing it when she reaches Kindergarten (she'll be three in June)?

Btw, I ask these questions while furiously chomping on my cuticles.


Devyl Gyrl said...

When I lived in England, I attended a school on base that held 6-12th grades. The bus drivers assigned seats to everyone, and you had to be in YOUR SEAT, no matter what. I was assigned a seat next to a 12th grader (I was in 6th at the time).

Usually, I had my nose stuffed in a book - it was the only quiet time I had to read. At school, I had to do schoolwork, at home I had to do housework. On the bus, I got to read. One day, I was laughing and looked over at my seat-mate to tell her about the scenario I had just read in my book.

I couldn't speak to her, because I was in shock. She was leaning her head against the window, twirling her hair, and ... SUCKING HER THUMB!

I was horrified. "Oh my gosh, what's wrong?" She was startled. "What? what do you mean?"

"Why are you sucking on your thumb? Did you hurt yourself? What's wrong?"

"Oh, no. I am fine. I just never broke the habit."

From that day forward, I have always been appalled when I see children running around sucking their thumbs. I realize that most children drop the habit by the time they get to elementary school. I just CANNOT fathom allowing it to continue if not absolutely necessary.

My Tween did not take an interest in any pacifier type things, either. When she was two, she suddenly started sucking her thumb (a habit she picked up from her father's new girlfriend's daughter, who was six months older than Tween). I was horrified, and I told my ex-husband in no uncertain terms that if he did NOT STOP HER, I would cut off his visits as long as he lived with his girlfriend. He could take Tween to his parents house to visit, he could come to my house to visit, but she would NOT be influenced by the habits of other children.

I get that I am totally over-reactive where this is concerned. An almost-three-year-old is at the right age, I think, to break the habit. It probably is not something to worry about.

Personally, I would be *slightly* more concerned about it simply because your brother had the habit, so you know the predisposition is there, somewhere.

There are several methods to try. My friend used "Mavala Stop" for her little one. ( I have heard of thumb guards (

I just did a quick research, and found both of these methods, and more, on one help forum. I especially like the method employed by "Jessica" (the fifth post down, I believe). Her method helped put the control in her child's hands, literally.

By making it her child's decision to quit (yes, for a reward), she put ownership in her child's hands. I love doing that with kids. I like helping them own their own decisions at a young age, because I think it breeds independence. As a single mom, I probably allowed my Tween a lot more ownership than most parents would ... but I see how it has helped shape her today, so I would not change a thing!

Now that I have written an entire NOVEL in your comments ... I hope you find something that works for you and your lil D. She's cute as a button, and I would hate to have to hear about her wearing head gear and painful mouth braces because of a habit that could be broken.


P.S. You're 42? Seriously? Holy SHIT I wish I had your genes!

Devyl Gyrl said...

I'm sorry that was so horrendously long! I really get on a roll, sometimes.


Smiling, Beguiling said...

Devyl, THANK YOU for your comment... I don't care how long it was. It was useful info, and besides, I learned more about you. :-)

As for my brother's thumb-sucking habit, we are not blood related so Dexy isn't getting it from him. Sigh. I just hope she'll get over it, long before she gets into 12th grade.

Side story, I was at a concert at the Hollywood Bowl once & one of the ushers was sucking his thumb through most of the show. I took lots of pictures of him b/c I couldn't believe it. LOL.

Devyl Gyrl said...

OMG - you totally rock *L*

I think if you are proactive, and firm, with Dexy, she'll be JUST FINE. How could she not be, witha Momma like you??

Devyl Gyrl said...

OMG - you totally rock *L*

I think if you are proactive, and firm, with Dexy, she'll be JUST FINE. How could she not be, witha Momma like you??