Habits are generally actions that people carry out quite regularly without much thought to what they are actually doing. As children we use habits to comfort ourselves when things have upset us or when we are tired and hungry, the simply make us feel calm. Some common childhood habits are things such as: thumb sucking and nail biting, but these are only a few because there is a wide range of childhood habits. As children get older they tend to grow out these habits as they start to feel more comfortable within themselves and find it easier to cope with the situations that they become involved. However, sometimes it takes a lot of will power for a child to overcome some habits and sometimes habits are never cured and continue well into a person adult life with them sometimes never getting rid of them.

Thumb and Finger Sucking

All babies suck their thumbs and fingers and it has been proven that they even do this before they were born, so babies grow habits before they have even had chance to live in the world. Some babies like to suck their thumbs and fingers more than others and often babies who do suck their fingers and thumbs like to do something else at the same time. The things that the do could be: stroking a doll, blanket or piece of material to entertain their other hand and this quite common for most thumb and finger suckers. They make chose to do it when they are: feeling sleepy, shy, bored, in trouble or when a tooth is coming through. The skin on the finger or thumb that they suck may become thicker than the other skin or, in other cases, become sore or blistered by the excessive sucking.

Thumb sucking, although sometimes annoying, is a harmless habit. Some parents feel that they should try and stop their child from thumb sucking but, as it is harmless, there is really no need. If the habit is ignored the child will very likely have grown out of it by the time they have reached four years of age, however, if it is made into a big deal the child will therefore be encouraged to continue until they feel that they want to stop. When fuss is made the child will want to carry on even more simply to rebel against what their parents say.

When thumb sucking continues well after the age of five it can start to affect the growth of front teeth which can be a huge problem. The teeth may not grow into the correct place in which permanent teeth come through. This means that parents will have to make children stop thumb sucking; however by this age it should be easier to tell them. As the child will now be older they should be able to understand the possible problems that could occur and they should also now be older enough to realise that they need to do what their parents tell them.

Sucking a Dummy

Some parents have strong opinions about their child having a dummy as they feel they are inappropriate. Some say that a dummy stops a baby crying because it soothes and contents the child. However, this is sometimes seen as a poor substitute to the love that parents should be giving their baby when it cries or becomes uncomfortable. Another point of view on dummies is that they should not be used because they are very unhygienic as they cannot be cleaned properly. If the dummy is not properly cleaned bacteria can be produced on the dummy giving the baby germs.

However, for the short space that a baby should use a dummy it is generally accepted that it can do no harm to the baby or its future growth. The only way that the baby could be caused any harm for later life is if the dummy is covered in a sweet substance, like a syrup or jam, as this can encourage teeth to rot, decay and become bad. However, as most children should have got rid of their dummy by the age of two this should not be a problem, the best way for the child to stop using their dummy is for the parents to ignore the use of one and they will soon stop. Children loose interest in doing something if their parents do not pay attention to it.
(Note: A Dummy is also known as a pacifier.)

Why do children need a comforter?

Most children like many adults, like things for the way they make them feel when they hold them or are around them. A child's favourite cuddly toy or blanket can be their treasured item and they will want them around all the time, especially at bedtime. The item gives them security and comfort at a time that they can become scared, in case they have bad dreams or hear strange noises. Although the feel of the comforter is a major issue so is the smell, too. If a child has their comforter washed they can become upset because it doesn't have the familiar smell that has, in the past, made them feel safe. In some cases a child can have a comforter for years until they feel more confident or until they have learnt that bedtime is fun and not scary.

Nail Biting

So many children over three years old chose to bite their nails and it can be seen as a very normal thing to do, depending on the parents of the child. Some parents do not mind but then others find it totally unacceptable. When children start to bite their nails they generally don't even know they are doing it until they can't stop and it has become a habit. Children often start biting their nails when they are nervous, tense or deep in thought and a problem with nail biting is that some nails can start to look unsightly. Nail biting can become a problem but if parents nag at their children they are more likely to continue just to rebel against their parents. The best option for parents is to simply ignore them and they will soon stop as they are lacking attention.

Handling the Genitals and Masturbation

Babies discover their genitals in the same way as they discover their toes and they will touch and explore in the very same way! As handling the genitals is a perfectly natural thing to do parents should not make the child feel naughty or dirty, after all, the parents touch this area when they are bathing the child. A child is less likely to play with their genitals if the parents just ignore it or try to divert their attention to something else in a gentle manner. Gradually, children will start to learn that parents do not approve, and to please them, they stop. By the age of six up until puberty children tend to lose interest in sexual matters, anyway.

The handling of the genitals only becomes a problem when it is done in excess as excessive masturbation may be a sign that a child is deeply unhappy, bored, lonely or worried about something. However, if you tell a child that it is wrong they only do it more which can also suggest that the child feel threatened by the parents and abuse may even be happening within the home.

Head Banging, Head Rolling and Body Rocking

Some babies have the following rhythmical habits:

  • Repeatedly banging the head - Children like to bang their head against something hard, perhaps the end of the cot so that they can release any anger they maybe feeling. This may make a lot of noise but it does not seem to hurt the child in any way but if parents are worried they could try padding the end of the cot to prevent injury and to reduce the noise.
  • Rolling their head from side to side - There does not seem to be any reason for this somewhat strange habit and they only thing that it achieves is that the hair on the back of the head starts to rub off in the process.
  • Rocking their body to and fro - When a young child in a cot does this it tends to move the cot in a rocking action too. If the cot is secured to the wall this will reduce the noise of the cot moving when they rock but not the habit that they have started. There is no way to stop this habit, the child will simply grow out of it at some stage.

    With thanks too :
    My Mother: she lived through nearly all these habits!
    A guide to child development,
    The health section of :http://bbc.co.uk
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