Thumb sucking matters

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

The other day, friends of ours came home with their nine-month-old daughter, who was sucking on her thumb. I was delighted to see this scene, but my friend puzzled by my reaction, asked me why, when the whole world fussed over sucking, I was so glad. So, I asked him, “What do you do when you are under stress or trauma? When you are lost, when you cannot think of a solution?” My friend was surprised by these questions and fell quiet. His wife stepped in and answered, “Sometimes when I am really tense, I take the name of God.” I replied, “That means you too suck your thumb!” This confused our friends even more.

I continued my questioning, “Why do you think your daughter sucks on her thumb?” Their answer was quite logical; they said, “She sucks her thumb, because she finds it very soothing. It is in a way, a replacement of the same feeling she gets when she suckles from her mother’s breast.”

I said, “Exactly, just like when you find solace in God, your child has found her way to seek inner peace. Just as when we’re angry, we work through different strategies – clenching and unclenching our fist, counting till ten, etc., similarly when your child needs some emotional support, instead of an outburst, the child has actually found a way to be calm, to be resourceful.”

The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bengaluru that works with children. To know more about their work visit

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