Thumb or Finger Sucking

  • R. L. Dawson


It has been found that between one third and one half of all children aged two to four years regularly suck their fingers or thumbs. (This Unit refers specifically to thumb sucking, but it applies equally to finger sucking.) After the age of four most children abandon the habit although one survey found that 22 per cent of 12-year-old children still suck their thumbs (Baalack and Frisk, 1971). Concern about the habit is generally related to its infantile and generally offensive appearance, but there is also evidence that after the age of four years the habit is associated with dental problems (Wright, Schaefer and Solomons, 1979).


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  1. Azrin, N. H., Nunn, R. G., and Frantz Renshaw, S., ‘Habit reversal treatment of thumb sucking’, Behaviour, Research and Therapy, Vol. 18, 395–399, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baalack, I. B., and Frisk, A. K., ‘Finger sucking in children: A study of incidence and occlusal conditions,’ Acta. Odont. Scand., Vol. 29, 499–512, 1971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Wright, L., Schaefer, A. B., and Solomons, G., Encyclopedia of Paediatric Psychology, University Park Press, Baltimore MD, 1979.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1985

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  • R. L. Dawson

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