Bruce and I were in a Burger King when Lilly was about twenty. While we waited in line she had her thumb in her mouth, simply because strangers were all around and she was nervous. An old gentleman was watching her and he said, “You know you shouldn’t have that thumb in your mouth. You’re putting germs from everything you touched in your mouth. No sir, you shouldn’t be doing that.”
Lilly removed the thumb. It’s a good thing for him that Lilly wasn’t agitated or he could have had a fist in his mouth, LOL!
When Lilly is disregulated, she doesn’t realize she’s sucking her thumb. When fearful and in public, I use a hand motion that brings what she is doing to her attention without embarrasing her. Other people don’t notice, but she takes the cue and removes the thumb. If she is agitated, I never tell her to stop the thumb-sucking, because we don’t like to see her get even more agitated and possibly out of control.
If you’re addressing a bad habit that your child has be careful that you:
Don’t ask them to accomplish something they are incapable of because they don’t have another way to cope.
Don’t address the bad habit during a time of duress. It’s pointless.
Don’t ever embarass them in any way.
Work on a secret signal between you and your child that is barely noticeable to others, and only use it when your kid is not greatly agitated.
I’d be interested to hear from other people about their situations and what they have successfully (or unsuccessfully) used.
Love my readers! -Nealie