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How can I handle a hyperactive child with a habit of thumb sucking?

Q: My son is 2 years and 9 months old. I am a working lady and I have nobody to take care of my son. I had to leave him in a child care centre since he was 9 months old. Will there be any problem with children who are brought up in a day care centre? My son has the habit of thumb sucking since he was 2 months old. I have breast fed him till he was 6 months old, but he refused to take mother's milk later, which forced me to give a substitute after two continuous days of efforts to feed him my milk. I consulted a doctor who told me to leave him alone as he will leave this habit automatically once he goes to school. How can I cut down his habit of thumb sucking? He is hyperactive and is unable to concentrate. He doesn't sit at one place for two minutes if we take him to a new place like friend's / relative's house. Either me, or my husband, has to run behind him and keep a watch on him. He is very careful when he get down the stairs, he is conscious that he might fall down. How should I deal with him?

A:Sending a child to a creche when he is 9 months old is not harmful to him. Much depends, of course, on the kind of care and attention that he was given. In any case, there is no reason to worry about it. Focus on how you can play with him and support his development now. Regarding thumb sucking, there are no easy answers. It does not mean that the child is feeling neglected, as some people suggest. He will certainly get over it as he grows up. It would be good if you could help him not to suck his thumb, by the time he is ready for Nursery School. Some mothers use a pacifier (a rubber nipple) to substitute the thumb. Some cover the thumb with neem oil (edible, but bitter) to discourage the child. Some use rewards (the child's favourite snack, a trip outside the home etc.) for not sucking the thumb. Punishing the child with slaps etc. should be strictly avoided. You will have to see what suits the child's temperament. As he develops language, he will be able to follow your reasoning better. Regarding your statement about hyperactivity. It is a word that is being used loosely and very commonly to mean very active technically these are different, so it would be better if you thought of him as very active, rather than as hyperactive. Children of this age do not often concentrate for a long time on anything. Most children flit easily from one thing to another. When you go visiting, take some of his toys and books along and settle him down with them, while you are talking. Attend to his needs and comments off and on. Give him at least five minutes of your concentrated attention on a social visit of 30 minutes. Quite often, adults are unaware that the young children are bored, with nothing to do. Give your child something to do at his level and interest. I am sure that your friends and relatives will be generally sensitive to an active child's needs and demands.


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