Monday, April 23, 2012

All the answers

I wish I had all the answers, or a parenting manual for my daughter.  I've always wished for a parenting manual for my daughter, after three and half years all I have learned is I know nothing, have no control, and how to have greater humility. I wish I could say I learned great patience but who knows.   So if you can make it to the end of this post, feel free to post advice/opinions.
Here is my latest quandary. This past winter has been an increasing struggle with her, the longer the winter went on, I wondered how much more I could handle.  I wonder what was going on, I felt like we had made such progress over the summer/fall, and that was even with a move and my husband being gone for 7 weeks.  I was positive it had nothing to do with the seasons, it just coincided.  I was at the end of my rope. I couldn't handle her constant tantrums, as I think I've mention by March we were up to at least three a day, that lasted at least 15 minutes, up to an hour, during which she was completely inconsolable.  (Although an hour long tantrum was fairly rare.)  Since my daughter also has a speech problem, I figured I need to exhaust my options, we are currently going through early intervention testing.
But lately I've been wondering.
Back in December my daughter saw the dentist, the dentist scared both of my children out of sucking their thumbs.  My son stopped almost instantly cold turkey with the help of socks on his hands.  I realized it is true what EVERYONE says, don't even try until they are 6, they don't get it.  My son was two months shy of 6 and totally got, that he had to stop.  He has never gone back.  My daughter who at the time was about one week shy of her third birthday taught her self how to stop sucking her thumb during the day, but refused at night.  The dentist and hygienist told her she wouldn't be pretty if she sucked her thumb because it would put holes in her mouth.  Which in retrospect I'm not sure I agree with their tactics, on a very sensitive female three year old. My daughter lives and breaths to be told she is beautiful. She stopped during the day and only sucked her thumb at night, or naps, which I thought was very convenient, since I taught my son to do that at about a year old, and had not had any success with my daughter. Well back at the end of March my daughter started to suck her thumb during the day again. I can tell you the specific date if you want, because I thought it was a miracle we didn't have as many tantrums, and I kept wondering what happen to the tantrums, but was relieved they were lessening. Not to mention she has started to nap again during the day since she picked up daytime thumb sucking.  My husband and I have been trying to talk her out of sucking, but she doesn't care what we said, and I'm wondering if I care. She does at least turn around so we can't see her, or cover her fist with her other hand.  She has doubled at least the amount of time she sucks her thumb in the last 6 weeks.  But let me tell you, she is so much more mellow now, she has maybe one inconsolable tantrum a day now, probably less. She is happier, she is sweeter. Am I imagining it?  Or is there a strong correlation between the challenging winter and the lack of self soothing thumb sucking?
What would you do?
Try to stop her relapsed thumb sucking? Or revel in the new found household peace?
This dentist I saw is the only person I've met who has told me a three year old should stop sucking their thumb. Sure it would be ideal, but three year olds don't get, and thumbs are attached to our bodies, and sort of needed for the rest of our lives.  Our SLC pediatric dentists told us not to worry until they are 5 or 6, because it is hopeless before that.  My many pediatricians have seen over the years, told me don't even worry until 5.  My mother, and many sister in law's who have had thumb suckers said its hopeless to try before 6. Which is the same opinion of the countless parenting websites and books. Why is this dentist so concerned?  He says her jaw is narrow and not growing at all.  Although I'm sure it is giving her dental problems, really not growing at all, how does he know, he only saw her once?  As far as I can tell, she has the exact same teeth I did before orthodontic work. I'm seriously considering what my stance is before June.  This is where I wish for the parenting manual to tell me all the answers.  I know what the dentist thinks, he told me, I could tell you what my pediatrician in Holladay would have told me, if stops her tantrums who cares what the dentist says, I loved that doctor, he was so realistic. I can tell you what the pediatric dentist in SLC told me about my son's mouth. He couldn't seen any problems from the thumb sucking, he needs an expander in a few years but that isn't necessarily from the thumb sucking. Now my son and daughter do have different jaws, and my daughter does suck her thumb more than my sond.  But like I said, my daughter has my jaw. How did one dentist who saw my son for years say he had no problems from thumb sucking, and the other dentist who saw him once, say he had a whole mouth of problems from it?  Let me tell you which one I trust more.
A friend of mine told me I have to see the other dentist at the pediatric practice, because the one I saw is overly concerned. I'm starting to believe her.
I have one problem, my husband is totally on board with my daughter going cold turkey with her thumb.  But the stay at home mom in the relationship can't imagine my daughter's behavior before the end of March with  a new baby.  Oh my goodness the fear of it makes me want to break out in hives.
What would you do?
Am I being selfish to allow her to suck her thumb to give me peace?  Or am I allowing my daughter to act age?  Here is what I know, I cannot handle hour long tantrums at bedtime if we did some sort of corrective action to get her to go cold turkey.  Nor do I think in my infinite experience of seven years of motherhood that a three year old should have corrective action to get them to stop sucking their thumb.
Let me assure you, no one tried harder than me to try and convince a baby to like a pacifier.  I tried so hard for both of my children.  They were born thumb suckers, and my daughter was born high strung.


  1. Well sis, I'm no doctor, but I will be some day, and one thing I've learned thus far is that if you don't like what your doc is telling you, get a second opinion. While the thumb sucking clearly isn't ideal, the psychological stress that mini-you was enduring is also not good for her. Don't let the feelings of one dentist convince you that everybody else you've talked to on the topic was wrong. Plus normal is a highly variable concept in medicine and probably dentistry too. It may be that he saw her genetically small jaw and freaked out because it was smaller than he felt it should be. No offense to the little one, I love her very much, but she is small in a few ways and none of them will be detrimental to her quality of life.
    Wow. How's that for a comment. I clearly have some strong opinions regarding the medical/dental profession.

  2. My opinion is that what ever it takes as a mother to keep your sanity is worth it. Obviously not harmful things, but my girls did have donuts for dinner last night after their shots. They were sore, I was tired, it worked. I'm all about saving a mother's sanity, it's important.
    I didn't know the 6 rule for thumbs, that's smart.

  3. I would let her suck her thumb for now. If she gets older and can't master it, I would get her one of those spacer things that makes it so she can't comfortably suck her thumb, and she will have to stop. This is what I am seriously considering with my 6yr old now that her permanent teeth are coming in. I think giving her the chance to master a bad habit (or something that is probably a genuine need right now), and not being forced to, will be beneficial to her. And my dentist didn't offer the spacer thing until she was about 4 and a half because he didn't see the thumb thing as a problem until then. All of our efforts in trying to get my daughter to stop have made her feel bad and frustrated (and me too) and looking back, I wish I had been less bossy and determined, since we have to resort to the device anyway. That is what I think right now anyway, we'll see what I think after we try the device.

  4. She's still young. She gets a free pass for now, and so do you. No guilt, no worries. Mary had her pacifier until she was 4.