A Hard Habit to Break…

My 7-year-old son Brady recently went to the dentist.  He got some good news and some bad news.  The good news, NO cavities!  The bad news, he has to stop sucking his thumb.

Once the check-up was complete the dentist came back in to talk with Brady about sucking his thumb.  She told him he needed to stop sucking his thumb immediately.  She told him how bad it was for the shape of his mouth and his teeth.  He listened to her and agreed to stop sucking his thumb.  Prudence and I talked with him afterward and he said he was ready to stop sucking his thumb.

He did great for the first few days.  We were all very impressed with Brady’s discipline.  As much as he wanted to suck his thumb he didn’t.  Even when he held his “blanket” he wouldn’t suck his thumb.  He stayed strong for those first few days.  We kept telling him how proud we were of him and that we knew this kind of change couldn’t be easy and that he was doing great!

One night last week while I was laying down with him before he fell asleep, I told him again how proud I was of him.  While I was talking to him I noticed that he had his back to me holding his blanket.  When I finished talking he began to cry.  He told me he wanted to suck his thumb SO bad but knew he wasn’t supposed to.  After two days of diligence his will was broken.  I tried to console him but he wasn’t having it.  He asked me to leave him alone and I did. When I went back into his room to check on him he was asleep without his thumb in his mouth.

Can you imagine what it must be like to stop a habit that you have been doing ALL your life and on top of that, it started while you were in your mother’s womb?

Add to that, every time you look at your hands you are reminded you could start the habit again.  And, it doesn’t cost you anything to start again and you don’t have to go anywhere to get your “fix”. All you have to do is stick one thumb in your mouth and everything will feel right again.

I wouldn’t have made it out of the dentist office!

So why am I telling you a story about my son sucking his thumb?

I think we can ALL relate to the difficulties of change.  Some change is harder than others but change is rarely easy.  Watching my son go through this process, I thought all the habits we try and change:

  • Reducing the amount of processed food we eat
  • Cutting out soft drinks
  • Moderately consuming alcohol
  • Moving more and moving better
  • Going to be earlier
  • Reducing our stress levels
  • Controlling our social media consumption
  • etc…

It also made me think about all the triggers we have around us that trip us up on our path to success.  Sometimes it is easy to spot a trigger, like a blanket in Brady’s case.  Other times it isn’t so easy to see or feel the trigger.  But once we identify the trigger we can take steps to remove it.  If we can remove the trigger most of the battle is won.  Without the trigger cuing us to repeat the habit we can begin to eliminate it.

Are there any triggers that you can identify?

Are there any you are ready to remove so that you can move closer to your goals?

I have noticed that Brady’s blanket now spends more time on the floor out of view than it has in the past.  It is kind of sad, but I know once he no longer reaches for his blanket he will no longer have the desire to suck his thumb.

Growing up is not for the weak!

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