Camping with Kids is a Great way to Stop Thumb Sucking

It may sound strange, but with some of my children’s habits, it’s taken a holiday to break them. I’ve read parenting books before that advise you to stay away from making changes to your child’s behavior when the family itself is doing something different or is in a state of flux. For example, don’t potty train on holiday, don’t get rid of a soother the week before a new sibling arrives, but for our family, a break from the norm has helped. When I have asked parents for advice on how to stop thumb sucking (and let’s face it, we will try anything) a few parents have said employ a big diversion.

So what I did with my youngest, who loves thumb sucking, was to book a camping trip, purchase a thumb guard and set off on a holiday. And yes, I did bribe her. If she managed to stop thumb sucking for the camping weekend, she’d get a choice of toy on return and then if she managed 3 more months of no thumb sucking with the help of her thumb guard, she’d get another camping trip (I was already researching campsites in Tuscany so this was as good a bribe as any).
So here are a few tips for camping with kids especially one that needs to do something with her hands!

  • Bags – Let your child choose her own luggage. You may have to explain what you need and don’t need for a camping trip if your child isn’t used to them, but keeping them busy from the get go is a good idea.
  • Lists – Ask your child to write a list of the things they think they might need to take on their trip. A list of food they would like to take is also a good idea.
  • Tent – Your child can help set up the tent and it might be a good idea to share a tent if you have a family size so you can check on the thumb sucking situation (remember that thumb sucking is a hard habit to break and your child may still suck her thumb privately and that’s okay – one step at a time).
  • Food – Take food your child will want to eat. Promise smores and toasted marshmallows for after a healthy campsite dinner. Toasting marshmallows is a nice comforting activity for kids.
  • Healthy Food – No need to just much on hotdogs when camping. Involve your child in deciding how your healthy food can be cooked – grill some veggies on sticks or boil water for corn.
  • Games – Bring some board games that can be played in the evening once your physical activities are over. Board and card games can also be played inside the tent if the rain comes down.
  • Outdoors – scope some safe and easy hiking routes, do an evening walk for extra excitement and if it’s warm enough, head to a swimming lake or a nearby beach. If you are further in land, have a nature game where your children must find certain flowers and birds. Remember keep that thumb sucking child busy busy busy!
  • Camera – let your child be the photographer for the day, give her sole use of the camera, this will completely distract her and be a lot of fun!

If this is your first camping trip, keep it short. Two or three nights is good and is also a good length of time for your child to stop thumb sucking with little pressure and lots of distraction!

If this is an option for you, then it’s such a great time for bonding as a family. Enjoy!

About the Author: Penny Hyldig is a working mother of three. She loves to camp and is currently researching campsites in Croatia and camping holidays in Spain for European travelling extravaganza in 2014!

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