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Teddy bear, thumb sucking and more.

Our daughter, 3 3/4 years old, has some particular habits that surround her teddy bear. She sucks her thumb when she has her bear, but she also licks the bear's hand, and then places the bears hand on her face while sucking her thumb, or momentarily places it near her nose or cheek, or arm or leg. She doesn't bring her bear everywhere she goes (goes to daycare with her but stays in cubby most of the day) and she can be without her bear for hours, but asks for her bear when she watches TV or gets ready to go to sleep, and when she's upset. Trying to tell her to stop the licking and thumb sucking hasn't worked as it's a habit at this point, but how worried should we be? Is it time to do away with the bear? She doesn't suck her thumb when she doesn't have the bear but she has developed other habits such as licking her finger and then wiping her face for example. (Does this sometimes when she doesn't have her bear...) She's an all around very happy child. What are we to make of this? Not sure what approach to take but obviously this isn't a healthy or sanitary habit. I don't want to take her security item from her but maybe it's time? Or should we just work on all those other things without taking the bear? (If we take the bear, it would be a bear is lost situation- not that we punished her or took it from her). And how do we address those habits, whether we keep the bear or not?
In Topics: My child's growth and development
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jan 24, 2013
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What the Expert Says:

Take heart that this too shall pass.  At her age a "prop" as the behaviorists call it such as a teddy bear are normal.  All sorts of "comforting" behavior can be expected such as thumb sucking etc.  The fact that she can be without the bear is good news.  I would instruct her about hand washing and make a game out of pretending to wash the bear's skin after licking.  Give the message that licking can sometimes not be good but I wouldn't take it away.  Teach hygiene with the message that it applies to the bear and you.  Give it some time.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics
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Additional Answers (1)

mamaski121
mamaski121 writes:
Check out Thumbuddy To Love. It is a positive teaching tool that comes with a book, thumb puppet and success chart. It could replace the bear and really teach her how to stop thumb sucking. Google Thumbuddy To Love.
> 60 days ago

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