Did I tell you about that time I got M off the pacifier? LoL it’s a funny story…
(Disclaimer: this story is not funny.)
It took 4 weeks for M to properly get off the dummy. He was utterly addicted to it before and had us running like headless chickens to find it when it went missing. Just over a month before his 2nd birthday he was completely off it.
Due to teething abuse, the dummy’s teat was broken. M became angry because it didn’t suck well. He’d throw it across the room, screaming and crying. During that time I read a woman advising another to actually cut a hole on the tip to make the sucking less enjoyable which would result in the child leaving it himself. At that point I found it ridiculous to buy a new one.. why would anyone buy an almost 2 year old a new dummy? So I got rid of it (i.e. hid it away being too coward to dump it). He didn’t use it at crèche. When I’d pick him up at school, he’d demand it and would cry all the way home if he didn’t get it. One day I gave him a snack instead. Distraction. Distraction is key. At home I tried to keep him distracted as much as possible, avoiding boredom to remind him about that dummy.
After 2 days after breaking the ‘car seat dummy’ habit, he asked for it. He started panicking when I ignored him and tried to distract him with a bypassing airplane. He was so confused when I didn’t acknowledge his plea for the dummy. It was heartbreaking. I felt like I was depriving a starving child from food. But it was not food. It was a bad habit that I knew was time to let go.
The first 4 nights I managed to distract him and slightly change routine in a way that made him fall asleep without it. Amazingly enough he slept better, didn’t wake as much because he wasn’t looking for it as he normally would. On the 4th night though he woke up during the night and cried throwing a major tantrum. My husband was tired and insisted that I give it back despite my rational that we needed to have a united front. Before this happened we asked everyone to not even mention the word dummy or the letter D in front of M. This night that rule was sabotaged and I was forced to give in. However the teat was still broken and of course went flying as soon as he sucked it. It was difficult listening to him scream and thrash around but as parents we need to have bucket loads of patients and persevere no matter how much your fears tell you that the neighbors are going to despise you (for keeping them out of sleep too.. which of course didn’t even happen) .
As rough as that one night was, it never happened again. That was it. He no longer asked for it during the day nor at night. 4 days is all it took to ‘break’ the habit. We were still mindful not to talk about it though. When showing him pictures on my phone I’d avoid ‘dummy present’ ones like the plague. About 3 weeks after acting like it never even existed, he out of the blue pointed to my bag (where I used to keep it) and said in a calm voice, “dummy”. I was so shocked. He never ever said it. He’d always just nag and do that ‘I’m going to throw a tantrum in 3.2.1’ whine and then I’d stick it in his mouth. That first four days of ‘rehab’ he’d tap his mouth indicating he wants his precious (that’s what we called it.. the precious). Now for the first time he was asking ‘nicely'(and using the actual word thus learning to talk!). My sweet baby looked at me, waiting. I didn’t know if I should acknowledge it or ignore it.
If I ignored it, I would be ignoring his ‘good behavior’ in asking nicely and see that ‘starving child’ look in his eyes. If I acknowledge it, It would be like telling him, yes that thing we pretended never existed.. did in fact exist.
I chose to acknowledge his calm collected request. I wanted to say; DUMMY? WHO TOLD YOU THAT WORD? WHO SAID THAT? I felt like wringing that persons neck. Where’d he come up with this all of a sudden?!. Instead I said, “wha, whoa, ha- gasp. Um” and then I said, “dummies are for babies”. He then proceeded kicking and screaming. The smiling, calm boy was gone.
That afternoon took a lot of distracting and full on attention from me. It was exhausting but once again, all for the greater good.
My son has been dummy free for 4 months and does not even bat an eyelid when he sees another baby with it. Mission accomplished.
PS: (Orthodontic dummies my behind) His teeth went from being round (front 4, top set doesn’t touch the bottom) to completely straight within 2 months.