So it happened. Yesterday morning. He coughed and it fell in the toilet. And that was that.
Yep. After months of wondering when the right time would be to tackle the Little Mister’s giving up of the dummy/pacifier/binky/soother (whatever you know it as), fate sorted it out for me quick smart.
The Little Mister is 3 years and 4 months old(ish). He has had a dummy for sleep time for most of his life. Until he got all of his teeth (May last year), he had one whenever he really needed one because it helped soothe his gums somehow. He hasn’t regularly had a dummy when we’re out and about since he was maybe just turned 2, I think (he had a setback when we travelled overseas and he felt a bit out of his comfort zone mid 2014).
I remember worrying so much when a nosy, opinionated check out operator judged me for giving him one. The poor kid was only 18 months old or so. Now I look back and realise I shouldn’t have given a rats what she thought. So he looked older than he was. Big deal. I knew the truth and I knew what he needed. I cringe when I think of myself feeling so damn self conscious overseas. My poor kid looked almost 4 years old, but he was 2 and a half. None of the kids in Korea his age had them. Truth is, he didn’t normally have one in public at home anymore either. But he was insecure and anxious without it – the dummy gave him security, soothed him and helped him to handle our crazy trip so well. I should have just been proud of him. Realised that it was an issue for later, back on home soil.
I feel embarrassed that I cared so much what others (strangers might I add) thought. I don’t know why, but people have a real bee in their bonnets about dummies. Seriously? For the Little Mister it was just as effective as a teething toy. It was his teething toy. It worked so much better than any Sophie the Giraffe or whatever other trendy things are on the market (and might be working really well for a lot of other children). He didn’t want the frozen teething rings, the special chewable toys. That worked for him. What’s the difference? Why is it OK for kids to chew on frozen finger foods and teething rings, but not to have a dummy in their gobs? It’s the weirdest double standard.
When he started to talk, I would tell him I couldn’t understand him if he had his dummy in his mouth. We started gently to tell him that dummies are for babies (which has backfired occasionally in public when he’s felt the need to tell other toddlers – just for the record I know he’s been such a hypocrite and I am not judging anyone – especially after our own experiences haha). We created a routine where he wouldn’t get breakfast or any snacks until he’d given up his dummy for the day (he is highly motivated by food haha). Baby steps.
When he started day care earlier this year, I sent him without his security items. He only goes once a week so a skipped nap isn’t an issue. I just wanted him to not get used to it there. He knows going to “school” (as he calls it) is a big kid thing to do, so I started him the way we plan to continue. I figured that if he absolutely freaked about not having those things, the staff could call me or I could revise my plan later. Turns out, he’s been just fine (although he doesn’t sleep he has quiet time). Yes.
Over the last couple of years, I flirted with the idea of going cold turkey. Of wondering when it was time to force the issue. But my gut just said it wasn’t time yet. He wasn’t ready. It’s kind of like toilet training has been for us. I was waiting for the signs that he was ready.
I have so rarely seen primary school aged children using dummies and other than in documentaries about strange and unusual addictions, I have never seen an adult who couldn’t kick the habit! Which gives great hope, doesn’t it?
So, back to yesterday…
I got him out of bed and guided him to the toilet. He had handed me his little security blankie (which I will let him have forever because CUTE) and he stood at the ready for his morning wees.
Let’s just say that dummy was never going near my child’s mouth again!! EW.
It was also his last one. A long while ago, I had decided that I would not be purchasing any more. Once he ran out and had broken or lost all of them, that would be it. I never predicted it would all end when he’d drop one in the loo!
So. I had a choice. Run out and buy a new one before nap time or see how he reacted when I rinsed it and put it in the bin in front of him. I chose the latter. He was a little bit sad…until breakfast time. He is at that stage where he understands that if you have no more of something, that’s it. When we’ve run out of his favourite snack, he can’t have it that day. When he wants something, if we do not have it or cannot find it, he understands. So I figured we had that on our side, at least.
He did suggest to me that we buy some more, but I told him that if we did that, then there would be none left at the shops for all of the babies who needed them (we don’t have a younger sibling for him to blame the milestone on haha).
That morning I found the Sesame Street episode called ‘Goodbye Pacifier’ on YouTube. I showed it to him and explained that Elmo called his dummy a ‘binky’ (an American slang term – wish there was an Aussie equivalent for kids to watch – if there is then let me know!) and that even his hero Elmo (who also taught him about toilet training haha) has given up his dummy and said goodbye to it. He liked the song, ‘Bye Bye Binky‘ (also on YouTube).
I felt cautiously optimistic. I was flying by the seat of my pants. Awesomely unprepared if you will! I had always envisioned myself spending weeks preparing him for this moment. Research, a big picture plan all laid out by me. As if! I should have known he’d get a cold, then cough it into the toilet when I was least expecting haha.
Nap time arrived and I was nervous but played it totally cool. I put him to bed and he was sad, but accepting. He cried with heartbreaking little whimpers, but he knew it was time. He knew I believed in him and I told him that it was OK to cry and be a little bit sad (gotta validate those feelings – it’s a big deal), but I knew he was ready because he was such a big boy. I told him I’d be back later and I left the room. I then had to sit on my hands as I watched him on the baby monitor. He whimpered but he never needed me – so brave.
He didn’t sleep (I really didn’t expect him to) but he played in his bed and sang ‘Bye bye binky’ to himself – oh the cuteness!
I’d put a call out to Mr Unprepared to bring something home as a reward. He headed to the shops where he’d found a Thomas the Tank Engine collectible set. The little trains cost $2 each and there was a special display/carrying case for them. Perfect. He could keep it in his room as a visual reminder of what he was achieving. Much like when I gave up mine as a toddler, in order to get myself some really cool glow worms (remember them?!).
Last night I was nervous. He got to bed and a couple of times he told me he wanted his dummy back. I gently reminded him that his dummy was yucky and had to go in the bin. I read him a couple of stories and then told him that if he was a really good boy and was able to be quiet and go to sleep, he’d get a new little train in the morning. HE DIDN’T CRY. NOT EVEN A WHIMPER. I was so impressed. He was a bit tired (from skipping his nap earlier on) and fell asleep in record time. No dummy! I thought, no doubt he’ll wake in the middle of the night, reach for it and be too disorientated to think rationally. I pictured him screaming for it and me stuck in the doorway of his room shooshing him in a soothing tone for hours.
But…he slept right through – no worries!! I thought, maybe when he wakes for the morning just before 7am, he’ll yell out for it. NOPE. He just waited for me to get him like usual. I THINK I’LL KEEP HIM.
It seemed too good to be true (and might still be – understandably – he’s kicking a lifelong habit haha), but then he napped today. No tears. No begging. He did absent mindedly look for it for a second when I came to get him up, but all was good. My Little Mister gets it and I am so glad he was ready.
So much of parenting is about following your gut feeling. Don’t let anyone bully you or shame you for your decisions when it comes to petty things like dummies. Do what is best for your child and they’ll show you when they’re ready for something. Also, no amount of planning can guarantee something will go smoothly. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. Nothing wrong with changing your mind in order to protect the process and nurture your child.
I’ve at least learnt that much in 3 years :)
What are your thoughts? How have you done it? Do you feel the pressure from others? Or simply wish me luck for tonight!!! x