SUCK-CESS program for managing finger-sucking habits

In order to help you child to stop a finger-sucking habit, this practice recommends a behavior
modification program. Please be aware that no "THING" will make your child stop a habit! This
program is set up to create the circumstances to allow the child to decide to stop by him/herself.

All behavior modification programs are based on a POSITIVE APPROACH.  In no way should
your child be made to feel that this is a punishment or a result of "bad" behavior. Emphasize that
it is Dr. Psaltis' idea and that they have had excellent results in helping many children to stop
finger sucking.

SUCK-CESS is a clear gel, which is objectionable in taste when placed in the mouth. It primarily
serves as a reminder to the child to not place her/his finger inside the mouth. SUCK-CESS does
NOT, as mentioned above, make the child stop!  PLEASE KEEP LID TIGHTLY CLOSED.

The program is relatively simple: the parent will apply a single stripe of SUCK-CESS over the
involved finger from the front of the knuckle to the back. This should be done twice per day,
AFTER breakfast and AFTER dinner. The child will keep a calendar in his/her room on which
she/he will keep track of days when sucking occurred and when it did not. Agree to a plan that is
neutral-- that is, don't make a "good mark" for not sucking and a "bad mark" for sucking. Last of
all, agree on a reward ahead of time such as a video rental, or lunch at McDonald's or whatever is
worthwhile for the child. After 30 consecutive days of no sucking, give the child the reward.

The basis for this program is simply this-- the regularity of the finger painting with SUCK-CESS
will establish consistency and concrete actions toward ending the habit. The calendar will heighten
the child's awareness of what is usually an unconscious habit in order that the child can decide to
stop doing it. It is impossible to stop a habit that one is not aware of. The reward is exactly that-- a
recognition that the child has given up something that is important (for whatever reason) to the

If the program isn't succeeding afer 2-3 months, simply tell your child that it seems as though you
haven't started at the best time for the change and that you are now stopping the program
temporarily. Be sure to tell the child that the program will be started again on _________________
(be specific) and set the date clearly, such as Valentine's Day or Thanksgiving, or some other day
that the child will recognize. Occasionally the program will not succeed, although this is rare. In
some cases, the habit may need to be dealt with through the counseling of other professionals, such
as a psychologist. This is not a sign of any mental illness-- it sometimes occurs that habits are
deeply ingrained and may actually have a true psychological basis.

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