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How to Stop Kids From Licking Their Fingers

author image Tammy Dray
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.
How to Stop Kids From Licking Their Fingers
Licking can lead to teeth problems. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Constant licking or sucking of the fingers can cause permanent damage to the teeth as well as skin issues, according to the University of Chicago. And while occasional licking might be expected in very young children, you really don't want your kids to become used to doing it. Breaking the habit can be tricky, but it's not impossible -- and the earlier you start, the better.

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Step 1

Start with positive reinforcement. Look for situations when your child would normally suck his fingers -- such as moments of stress or when getting sleepy -- and praise him for not doing it. You might need to remind him gently to stop sucking and then say "thank you" or other words of encouragement when he stops. By putting emphasis on the positive, you will show him that not licking is a good thing and makes Mom happy.

Step 2

Ask your child to wash his hands after handling food. Children might lick their fingers because they smell or taste like something they enjoy eating. This could turn into a habit so it's best to eliminate the temptation from the beginning.

Step 3

Wrap the fingers with an adhesive bandage. Chances are your child favors just a finger or two -- like the thumb or the index finger -- so you only need to add a bandage to those fingers. Since your child might be licking his fingers without even realizing it, the bandage will act as a reminder -- once he puts the finger in his mouth and feels the bandage, he'll become aware of the action and stop it.

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