Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Meredith has generally been a content child. We attributed some of that contentment to her ability to self-soothe by sucking her thumb. She sucked her thumb to sleep, when she fell and got hurt, when she needed to rest, or when she wanted to relax and listen to a book or watch a movie. Sometimes we'd even tell her, "Just suck your thumb sweetheart, then you will be alright." Although once we got to Africa the thumb sucking was probably the reason she had Giardia for 6 straight months. And Kenyans loved to yank that thumb right out of her mouth causing her to yell, "Stop, it's mine," frequently.
Well, by the textbooks (dental textbooks) by age 5 we needed to stop this self-soothing or we were going to more permanently impact her smile. Recognizing that it wasn't going to get any easier for her to stop we decided to find her currency-- you know the thing that she wanted more than her thumb. We suggested several things we could get her for her birthday only to have her say, "I've decided I have enough toys and only want cake for my birthday," i.e. no way am I giving-up my thumb. But then a high schooler mentioned she wanted to sell her American girl doll. I took Meredith up to see the doll. She wanted it and I think she wanted it even more because it was something Amelia wanted. But her thumb hasn't been in her mouth since. Those first few naps and bed times were hard, but she figured out other ways to soothe to sleep. I see now that along with contentment my child does have self-control (at least some of the time). I'm proud of her and will always picture her baby-toddler years with her thumb in her mouth.