Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sam's Big Challenge, My Big Heartbreak

When the girls were very little they did not take pacifiers. At about 7 to 8 months old they discovered their hands. When they would put their hands in their mouth we would gently pul them away and say, "No hands in our faces." This really seemed to be working (and it did for Riley) until Sam had that first seizure. When I saw my baby laying in that hospital trying to comfort herself by sucking on her fingers I just couldn't say no.

That brings us to now, almost 3 1/2 years later. She's still sucking on those two fingers (she alternates between her hands.) She has huge callouses at the base of each finger, her teeth are being pushed forward, and the roof of her mouth is being pushed upward. They say this could affect her speech, but it doesn't seem to be.

In any case, about a year ago we tried to get her to stop by constantly reminding her to take her finger out of her mouth. It wasn't working and it was just upsetting her more which in turn made her suck her finger more. About this time I read a whole lot about finger sucking and many sources seemed to indicate that children would sto by age four, so we left her alone with it. She hasn't stopped.

Back to the research table for me. A couple of sources suggested sitting down with the child to see if she wants to stop (she said she did), and then let them be involved in the process (duh). Yesterday I got some white surgical tape and together we cut off pieces, and then Sam wrapped them around her finger. This is supposed to make it less comfortable for them to suck so they quit more naturally and without nagging.

I thought we were doing great until the last piece of tape went on. As she finished, she looked up at me, and big, giant tears slowly started rolling down her face. She didn't howl, she didn't complain, she just folded into my lap and sat there with those big silent tears rolling down her face. It made me cry then, and it's making me cry now as I write this. I have never seen anything so sad in my life. I just wanted to rip the tape off her fingers and let her have them back. However, as a parent I know I am doing the better thing for her by helping her to stop.

In the mean time I will silently cry for my baby.



At 16 June, 2008 09:32, Blogger heather said...

i wish i had advice, but i'll just say, i'm sorry you both are having to deal with this. i hope this new trick works and sam gets over it quickly.

At 16 June, 2008 10:05, Blogger snarfdog said...

Thanks Heather. She seems to be doing better with it though she has switched to biting her knuckle. Not sure where that's gonna go. We'll see.

At 16 June, 2008 15:05, OpenID imhelendt said...

Susan- I don't think Sam will go off to college still sucking her fingers. I know it's messing up her mouth, but my sister sucked her thumb until she was in 7th grade. What I'm trying to say is that maybe you should just let her suck her thumb and resign yourself to the fact that she will need orthodontic work. Poor Sam.

My parents tried everything to get my sister to stop. And really, she said she wanted to. But what it comes down to is that she really has to be the one to stop herself. And I think four years old is a little too young to be able to make such a big decision. Give Sam a hug for me.

At 19 June, 2008 19:02, Anonymous Shadow said...

Been there, did it and wore braces and mouthguards to correct it for 8 years. Also had to take speech classes S's were Th's.

It does come down to her deciding to stop. We tried a glove with the fingers cut out at night [thumb needed to be blocked] that seemed to help the most. Plus I was given a special stuffed animal after a week of no thumb sucking and never really looked back. Do baby steps and keep encouraging her.

At 19 June, 2008 23:05, Blogger Seajade said...

I cry for Sam, too because I know how she has wanted to stop but so much of it is unconcious for her. It is a big support to give up.

At 07 July, 2008 10:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, in India, when a child sucks his/her finger, we apply a little neem oil on the fingers they suck, and whenever they suck even unconsciously, the bitter neem oil in their mouth makes them stop...I guess this is better than taping their fingers...u can try :)

At 12 July, 2008 05:50, Blogger snarfdog said...

What is neem oil? Do you know what the American equivalent might be?


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