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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 14-year-old girl with an embarrassing problem: I still suck my thumb. It has caused many arguments between my parents and me.

They paid a lot of money for my braces and retainer, and I'm on the verge of ruining my teeth. I have tried to stop by wearing a mitten, putting gross flavors on my thumb, etc., to no avail. Can you help me? -- STILL A BABY IN THE SOUTH

DEAR BABY: Try this; it's a form of behavior modification. Place a rubber band loosely around your wrist. When the urge to suck your thumb strikes, snap the rubber band hard enough to remind you to resist the habit. Soon you will associate the "sting" with the urge to suck your thumb, and because of the discomfort, you'll reject the urge.

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