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Fingers in the mouth

Posted by Laurie Vanderzwaag on June 07, 1999 at 10:33:15
I have three little boys, 5,3 and 6 months.   My oldest has his fingers in his mouth almost constantly.   What causes kids to do this.  He is not bitting his nails- rather justing having his fingers in his open mouth.  
Any help would be appreciate
Posted by HVM Ph.D. - KDK on June 08, 1999 at 08:49:31
Dear Ms. Vanderzwaag,
The mouth is a source of pleasure for very young children, and often pre-scholers will comfort themselves by thumb sucking or having their fingers in their mouth. By the time children turn five or six, most stop sucking their thumb or having their fingers in their mouth, but some continue this. Has your son always done this, or is it a more recent behavior. If it's a new behavior, or an old behavior that has resurfaced, he may be feeling insecure and this is a way to soothe himself. If it's a long-standing pattern, it likely represents his preferred way of comforting himself and is not necessarily a sign of any recent insecurity. Development, maturation and social expectations will ultimately help him to let go of this self-soothing behavior. Try not to make an issue of it, either via scolding or reprimanding or urging him to stop it, or via rewarding him for not doing it. Be sure he has plenty of opportunites to keep himself busy - a parent ususally doesn't have to worry about this with a five-year-old! If it seems to signify a regression, or some recent insecurity, try to offer some support around whatever the issue seems to be.
This information is provided for purposes of general medical information. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options that pertain to your specific condition.
*Keyword: thumb-sucking

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