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Toddlers a Little Person Emerges > Why is He Obsessed with Blue? Fads and habit...

Why is He Obsessed with Blue? Fads and habits explained

Q: Since my partner and I broke up, my son is sucking his thumb all the time. Have we damaged him?
A: Thumb sucking is a very common comfort habit. It is a useful and effective form of self-soothing, which on its own is not a sign of emotional disturbance. It is not unusual for even a school-age child to suck his thumb at bedtime. The most common concern about thumb sucking is the effect it has on growing teeth.

However, if your son is spending a lot of time sucking his thumb and you think that he is upset by your breakup, you need to take some action. If his self-soothing isn’t working, he may need more comfort from you and his father to have some of his fears allayed. Children find parents’ conflicts especially difficult if they don’t understand what is going on and if their familiar routines change. Research shows that children who keep good relationships with both their parents do best (see advice on coping with divorce in the article on What’s the Fallout?).

Q: My child can’t bear to be without his “blanky” comfort blanket. How can I break the habit?
A: Clinging to a special blanket is a habit developed to manage with times when you are not there. If security blankets are relied upon heavily, particularly for getting to sleep, they can prove to be somewhat problematic. If they are forgotten or lost, you can be faced with a distressed child and a sleepless night.

With a blanket you can gradually make it smaller and smaller by cutting it in half and then quarters, so your child gets used to its changed shape slowly. It is worth keeping a piece in reserve for emergencies. It might be a good idea to have “blanky”-free zones such as playgroup or day care, and to gradually restrict its use to home and then bedtime.


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