I was born with my thumb in my mouth and I refused a dummy as a baby - just liked the thumb. Growing up my parents tried anything and everything to get me to stop. I soon worked out that most things don't last forever and that you can suck your thumb quite happily once the icky taste stuff has worn off etc...
I gradually weaned down on the thumb sucking until it was just being done as I went to sleep instead of all day and night... This didn't stop until I got bracers in year 10 - my jaw was widened with a device that sat across the area that my thumb went in my mouth and made it impossible. The bracers were not from the thumb sucking either, my jaw was just too small for my teeth so they fixed it.
Even now sometimes I get the urge to put my thumb in my mouth but I don't do it because I know that I might not be able to stop once it starts again.
THis problem is really bad but trust me.... if your kid doesn't want to stop they won't.
My daughter has a habit of sucking on the side of her hand when she is tired. That didn't worry me until she came home one day sucking her thumb. She said that so-and-so at school (childcare) was doing it so why can't she. I told her that it was yucky so she stopped and went back to using the side of her hand. (Thank god it worked!)
But I have to say that the hand sucking is even a distraction. Originally my daughter used to suck on me. Her favourite spot was my cheek or my lip. It was a weird habit. She would just purse her lips and start sucking as if she was having a bottle and then press her lips to my face. We ended up moving her hand there because it was impossible to get her to stay asleep without my face next to her.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there are different solutions for different problems. SOme work and some don't. You just have to try absolutely everything - and if that doesn't work - GIVE UP! My parents had to!
Jordana, ACT, 1st girl Sep-01, 2nd girl Jul-05