(HealthDay News) -- Usually, your child will give up sucking on a thumb with time. But if the practice seems to go on too long, you can take steps to encourage your child to stop thumb-sucking.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions:

  • Don't tease, punish or speak harshly to your child for sucking the thumb.
  • When your child isn't sucking the thumb, offer words of praise and rewards.
  • Find ways to entertain and distract your child if thumb sucking is a way to battle boredom.
  • Speak with your child's pediatrician or dentist about using a device in the mouth to make thumb sucking uncomfortable.