Thumb-suckers, beware—Lyndsay says that sucking and chewing on hands and clothes are often markers of anxiety, a disorder from which children of all shapes and sizes suffer. Such tendencies may have been passed on by you—anxiety is, in fact, a genetic medical disorder.
To combat anxiety in your children, Lyndsay suggests desensitization. Take birthday parties, for example. Lyndsay says that you can start by having your child go inside, say happy birthday to the host, give them their present and leave the party. At the next birthday party, however, your child may have to stay for three minutes before leaving. As you push them to overcome their anxiety, positive reinforcement can be a very powerful tool.
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