For the last year I've been talking to my oldest son about how when he's ready he'll need to choose to stop sucking his thumb. I asked him last year how old he wanted to be when he quit sucking his thumb and he said, "Five." After he turned five in December I brought it up and he wasn't ready yet. Since he is the Sensitive child, I didn't push it because of what I learned when I tried to toilet train him 3 years ago and how that differed from when he finally took ownership of his toilet training experience just over 2 years ago.
It has been REALLY important to me that my son makes the decision to stop sucking his thumb himself. When I was his age (5), I inadvertently placed my left thumb in between the door and the door jamb/frame of one of the big, heavy metal doors at the junior high when I had opened the door for someone who was bringing stuff in during our dress rehearsal for the children's choir I was in. The door shut on my thumb and, well, it broke my thumb.... the one that I had sucked every day of my life since I was an infant. I could still hold my special blankie, but I couldn't suck my thumb because it hurt to! When my dad got home from work my parents took me to the doctor to get it ex-rayed and yep, it was broken, I had to wear a splint on it for 6 weeks maybe? By the time the split came off, the pattern of sucking my thumb had obviously been interrupted long enough that I no longer sucked my thumb. It just didn't feel or even taste right anymore. That was the positive that came out of the breaking my thumb experience.
But as I learned from Wade Reed tonight, between the ages of 3 and 5 years old, we ALL gain beliefs about ourselves that stay with us and are the filters through which we view the world, ourselves and other people. The belief I gained at 5 years old was that I was acted upon and a victim in life. I was not an agent unto myself to stop sucking my thumb, it was acted upon me. That was the negative that came out of my thumb-breaking experience.
This belief really has been a huge part of how I viewed myself for my ENTIRE life up until a couple of years ago when I realized that I can reprogram my entire belief system (enter Tony Purcell here). I've been working on changing the belief system I have and so far I have been very successful.
Contrast my experience with that of Tips. He also sucked his left thumb as a small child and one day he looked at his thumb (they get all distorted looking when you suck them many times a day all day long) and realized how weird it looked and thought that it must have been the germs in his mouth that made his thumb look like that. So JUST LIKE THAT he decided to stop sucking his thumb! He was an agent unto himself in that moment to quit cold turkey. He was NOT acted upon. How he has conducted himself throughout his life has reflected his healthy belief system he has about himself. He knows that whatever he chooses to do, once decided he will do it and bring about the change he wants in his life. He has always been empowered.
Just last Monday I took the kids to their pediatric dentist, and the dentist actually said that Tips Jr.'s teeth were okay - his upper jaw was normal looking and not poking out funny, but he still needed to quit sucking his thumb. Since Tips Jr. is starting kindergarten this next month, we asked him following his dentist visit what "prize" he would want to earn by not sucking his thumb. He said he wanted the Phineas and Ferb game that his cousin had. Tips looked it up and he could choose between the Wii or the PS3 version - he chose the PS3 version. Last night I got home late with the kids and just carried them to bed. Literally all I did was to take off their shoes so they slept in their clothes last night. Tips Jr wakes up and comes into my room at 7 AM to tell me, "Mom, I can't find Purple Blanket (what he has always called his special blankie). When I don't have Purple Blanket I don't suck my thumb. Now I can get my game!" I reminded him he had to go another 20 days without sucking his thumb. He was just a little sad that we couldn't find his blanket and he wouldn't be able to take it to the family cabin this weekend, but he seemed more excited to realize he didn't have the temptation to suck his thumb (since he made the realization himself that he didn't suck his thumb if he didn't have his blanket) because then he could begin "earning" his prize of going 21 days without sucking his thumb.
I ended up finding his blanket yesterday afternoon on my daughter's bed under her duvet. I asked him if he wanted me to hide it, give it to him, or put it away so he could see it but not get it. He said he wanted me to put it away so he could see it but not get to it. So I folded it up and had him come with me into his room so he could see where I put it up on the very top shelf of his closet. He only has to go 20 more days of not sucking his thumb and we will have another video game he will want us to help him beat (we are all about co-operative video games in this house).
How cool is this that my child is empowered because he took ownership of breaking the habit of sucking his thumb himself? I think it is COMPLETELY AWESOME!!! He will now OWN the belief that he is capable of making decisions and following through so that he can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to do. I am SO proud of Tips Jr.!!! I am also SO thankful for the insights I have gained over the last couple of years and how it has truly redefined how I view myself, other people and the world. I am thankful that my son will grow up with a healthier belief about himself than I did BECAUSE he took ownership to break his habit of sucking his thumb.
And now I am off to reframe my experience of breaking my thumb 27 years ago so that I will have ownership of how I came about breaking my habit of sucking my thumb. In writing this post I have gained additional insight and clarity into the simple fact that I can reframe the experience of breaking my thumb so that my subconscious and conscious mind believes that it was me being an agent unto myself and acting for myself to break the habit of sucking my thumb.