ThelmaPerry asks:

What is the best way to get my 8 yr old Stepdaughter to sleep on her own and stop sucking her thumb?

My stepdaughter is 8yrs old and wont sleep without her her mom or dad in bed, she also requires that the TV be on and the light also. Her mother lets her sleep with her everynight and sleeps with the light and TV on. She only comes to her dads every other weekend. She started coming everyother weekend recently and hadnt seen her father for 8 months prior to that.  Before that time she got to see him once a month or even less. She also still sucks her thumb. What can we do to start helping her sleep on her own and drop the the thumb sucking habit?
In Topics: Sleep and rest, Discipline and behavior challenges, Blended families
> 60 days ago



Apr 13, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

It is understandable that you are concerned about these behaviors. I'd suggest that you wait a while before doing anything about them, however. Since your stepdaughter has only recently begun spending time with you and her stepdad, it is really important that you give her time to get used to the visiting before you make any major changes and both of these are REALLY major!

I would suggest that you not try and break the thumb sucking habit at all! This is an important self-soothing habit for a child who has had significant changes in her life and I wouldn't force her to stop. If an orthodontist or dentist tells her she needs to stop, her mother will need to deal with it then. At this point, her dad needs to focus on really developing a secure relationship with her, rather than being a strong discplinarian.

In addition, if she sleeps with her mom every night, it will be difficult to break that habit. Perhaps in a couple of months you will be able to help her gently towards sleeping on a bed/mattress in her dad's room, rather than in the bed. Then slowly next, to her own space. Perhaps if you create a fun room/space for her and she helps to decorate it, she will want to spend more time there. But, again, I think you need to make slow moves, as this is a relationship that is just being rebuilt and is not yet solid.

Best wishes!

Dr. Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book! "The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask"

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