Do you know about Self-Soothing Habits in Children?

Common self-soothing habits of a child:

How many times have you seen children sucking their thumb or biting their nails and wondered why children do this?

These habits are helpful in children in managing their distracted mind, the reasons for which include being away from their parents or caregivers, going into new situations, feeling sad, etc. The process of sucking the thumb and moving in a rhythm while sitting calms their mind.

Common Self Soothing Habits:

Some of the most common self-soothing habits in children:

Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

Thumb-sucking is a habit that your child does to calm himself. If this habit is not stopped in time, then the child also puts the corners of toys and blankets in his mouth and starts sucking them. 50% of children at the age of one year have this habit, which they give up by the age of 2 or 3, but some children grow up with this habit and are unable to give it up.


In this process, children sit at one place and move repeatedly according to a rhythm, this makes them feel very peaceful. They feel as if they are in your lap and you are rocking them. This habit is more common in those children who grew up in a restrictive and stressful environment. If you keep the child in an open and fun environment, this habit often goes away and only appears again when the child is under stress (eg: falling ill).

Biting Nails

Biting Nails

Nail biting is a form of thumb sucking, in which the child also starts biting his nails. If your child slowly bites his nails, it is a process of self-soothing. This habit is often found in children who are emotionally disturbed, miss some object or person, or have a strong inclination towards something and are unable to do it. Sometimes children bite their nails so hard that When you bite the nail, either it starts bleeding or the entire nail gets damaged.

In addition to these three major self-soothing habits, the child may also develop habits like twisting and pulling their hair, picking their nose or wounds, or chewing on things like pencils and clothes.

How to stop these habits?

  • Most of these habits go away on their own. However, if these habits are harming your child’s health, you can stop them as follows:
  • Remind them repeatedly, lovingly, that these habits are not good.
  • Keep your child busy and use a variety of fun activities to divert his attention.
  • Try to know the reasons behind your child’s habit, as well as eliminate all the reasons due to which the child has developed this habit. For example, if your child sucks his thumb after moving away from his favorite toy, reduce the child’s dependence on that toy.
  • Find alternatives to these habits and incorporate them into your child’s daily routine. For example, if your child wakes up crying, distract him by giving him a toy. After some time, keep the same toy near him, so that his attention does not go towards crying.
  • Some habits come in pairs, so stopping one will automatically eliminate the other habit. For example, if you can stop them from sucking their thumb, the habit of pulling hair will automatically go away.
  • To stop the child from sucking his thumb, you can apply some bitter liquid (juice, etc.) on his knuckles, the taste of which will stop him from sucking his thumb.
  • Reward your child for not doing these habits. You can motivate them by saying something or by giving them a beautiful gift and encouraging them to give up these habits.

Most of these self-soothing habits go away on their own as they grow up. But if you feel that the child is not able to give up these habits or things are getting out of your hands, then you should consult your pediatrician for this.

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