Your father and mother want you to stop sucking your thumb, and they told you that they were going to bring you to me and make you stop. I'd like you to understand one thing: your thumb is your thumb; your mouth is your mouth. If you want to suck your thumb, you go right ahead. Your Daddy can't boss me; your Mommy can't boss me; and I'm not going to boss you. But if you want to, you can boss your thumb, and you can boss your mouth, and you can go ahead and suck your thumb as much as you like.
[ . . . I pointed out to him that I thought it awfully unfair that he sucked only his left thumb; that his right thumb was just as nice a thumb and it was entitled to just as much sucking, and that I was astonished (that he wasn't sucking his right thumb as well). Little Jimmy thought that he was at fault. Being a nice, bright boy, Jimmy should be willing to suck both thumbs. But, you see, what happens is that as surely as Jimmy sucks both thumbs he has cut down sucking his left thumb by about fifty per cent. He has reduced his habit. And what about that forefinger, and the other three fingers? When you start dividing, you start conquering.]
Now, let us get one thing straight. That left thumb of yours is your thumb; that mouth of yours is your mouth; those front teeth of yours are your front teeth. I think you are entitled to do anything you want to with your thumb, with your mouth, and with your teeth. They are yours, and let us get that straight. I want you to do anything you want to do. . . . One of the first things you have learned when you went to nursery school was to take turns. You took turns with this little girl and with that little boy in doing things in nursery school. You learned to take turns in the first grade. In fact, you learned to take turns at home. When Mother serves the food she serves it first to one brother, and then it may be your turn, then it may be sister's turn, then it is Mother's turn. We always do things by turns. But I don't think you are being right or fair or good in always sucking your left thumb and never giving your right thumb a turn. . . . Your left thumb has received all of the sucking. . . . The right thumb hasn't had a turn; the first finger hasn't had a turn; not a single other finger has had a turn. Now I think you are a good little boy, and I don't think you are doing this on purpose. I think you really would like to give each of your fingers a proper turn. [Can you imagine giving a turn to ten separate digits? Can you imagine a more laborious task in the world? And Jimmy strove manfully to give his fingers an equal turn at sucking. Next I pointed out:] You know, Jimmy, you are over six years old now, and soon [in two months] you will be a big boy of seven; and you know I have never seen a big boy or a big man that ever sucked his thumb, so you had better do all of your sucking before you are a big boy of seven. [No longer a mere six. He would be joining the big kids when he turned seven years old.] And you know, Jimmy, I don't know a single big kid that sucks his thumb, so you'd better do plenty of thumb sucking before you join the big kids. You'd really better get plenty of it.
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