A common activity for young children, thumbsucking can ultimately lead to trouble and embarrassment for those who continue the habit into adulthood. The origins of thumbsucking, for therapeutic reasons, need not be explored, since it is so common for babies and toddlers. Only when the behavior does not naturally end should intervention be considered. If parents have been unsuccessful in breaking the habit in a child who is verbal and communicative, then they should seek help before problems set in.
Delaying intervention could lead to a host of problems as a child matures. One primary problem occurs in a child’s dental health. For those who continue to suck their thumbs, the mouth and teeth begin to form around the thumb, creating dental malformations. These malformations, in turn, will lead to speech impediments. Children’s health can be compromised due to a higher risk of illnesses from viruses, bacteria, and infections. For children, harassment and embarrassment from peers can create additional social pressures. For adults who continue to suck their thumbs, the problems are amplified.
Thumbsucking is an unconscious behavior (actually, more of a subconscious Middle Mind behavior). It is not a rational behavior that children decide to adopt, so some non-thinking benefit is obviously enjoyed by the thumbsucker. It may be a soothing or comforting gesture. It may be a mechanism developed in order to deal with stressors. For some, it may be a sleep aid. Ironically, those who suck their thumbs do so frequently in order to achieve a light, trance-like state, and, as a result, they are often excellent candidates for hypnosis-based therapy.
Results utilizing hypnotherapy may be achieved rather quickly. During the therapy, the goal consists of at least a three-fold objective. With techniques unique to hypnotherapy, the therapist will reach areas of the Middle Mind the client has not accessed, re-programming it so that the client will have a conscious awareness of the habit. Thus, the unconscious habit becomes a conscious one. The second objective is to create an aversion to the habit. Thirdly, the therapist will give suggestions that positively reinforce the benefits of living without the thumbsucking behavior. On top of the basic objectives, the therapist will work with the Middle Mind to bolster a client’s overall confidence, self-esteem, and positive outlook on a non-thumbsucking life.
The brief time and minimal investment necessary to retrain the Middle Mind makes hypnotherapy a wise choice in treatment, for both children and adults.