Expert Advice

Almost Seven and Still Sucks Her Finger

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q
My daughter will be 7-years-old in July. She still sucks her index finger at bedtime. Should I be concerned?
A
The best resource for this answer is a pediatric dentist/orthodontist. She will be able to take a look at your daughter's mouth, listen to the nature and frequency of this habit (perhaps even encourage your daughter to show her exactly how she sucks her finger) and evaluate whether this constitutes a present/future problem for her development (unnatural teeth spacing, overbite, etc.).

Other than the possible medical/dental problems this habit may cause, there is no other reason to worry about this habit. It's clearly a self-soothing, calming ritual behavior associated with her falling asleep. Get her that dental evaluation and then act accordingly. If she's told she absolutely should not continue this habit, write me some advice on helping her kick the habit.

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

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