Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Heartbreak Over a Binkie-Boo and a Parenting Break Through

Tonight is the 3rd night in a row that our sweet princess is sleeping without her pacifier or as we call it, her "Binkie-Boo."

Our daughter is almost 2 1/2 now and this pacifier habit has been hard to kick. I think people can give up meth easier than a toddler can give up a pacifier. A couple nights ago we couldn't find a binkie-boo that wasn't broken. She is getting her 2 year molars so she constantly chews on them. We told her that once they were all broken that was it and there would be no more. That night we looked under every cushion, pile of clothes, in her kitchen set, everywhere, and we couldn't find one.

I figured this opened up a great opportunity to end her love for them so I made a deal with her: Sleep without binkie-boo and you can get the Cinderella Dress for Bunny at Build-a-Bear. She loved this idea and we went to bed tear-free. She slept like a champ without it until 5am when she woke up crying for it. The tired mama I was grabbed her broken binkie-boo and let her have it.

The next morning she asked for it and I reminded her of our deal. She decided to sweeten the pot a little and changed it to this: "No Cinderella dress for Bunny mama. Cinderella dress for Abbey." Deal kiddo!  Plus, what mom doesn't want to see her little girl dressed up like a princess!

We got to the mall, went to the Disney store, played with everything in there and left with her Cinderall dress. As soon as we got in the car she started crying for her binkie-boo. Then we got home and it continued. She cried and screamed for almost 2 hours. It was the full body flailing, head banging on floor, kicking, screaming, meltdown. She wouldn't let us hold her or console her. The hubs, myself, and our golden retriever all laid on her bedroom floor with her the whole time until she finally cried herself to sleep.

She has had a pacifier since she was 2 months old. She has had this thing for almost her whole little life. And now it is gone. It's not like a fun toy or hobby she can't use any more. It was her soother, her safety net, her pacifier! My sweet little girl just had to give up one of her favorite things in the world. Her heart was breaking. And mine was too. It was my little girl's first heartache. Her first loss.

It would have been really easy to get fed up with her behavior, leave her alone to cry it out, yell at her, or a number of other things. (I'm sure someone is going to say we were wrong for letting her cry that long without giving it back to her.) But we were there with her and sang to her and tried to console her. Even though we couldn't get the screaming stopped, she knew that mommy and daddy were there for her during this incredibly sucky (or lack of sucking device) time in her life. But I learned some important things during this experience. I think these tips can be used for most things when it comes to toddlers.

So for parents of children with a strong attachment to their pacifiers, here are my tips:
Note: we aren't completely out of the woods yet but so far this is what I have learned and what has helped us.

  • Talk about why they don't need it and discuss giving it up before you do. 
    • Our talk started over a month ago and it didn't happen with the talk. But this at least gets the thought in their little heads.
  • Start helping them find alternative soothers. 
    • The past two nights we have sang lots of songs, we play with her hair, and I run my fingers lightly across her arms. All things she can do when she is alone and needs comfort. 
  • Make a deal with them.  
    • We offered the Cinderella dress for Bunny then she upped the deal the next morning. Be flexible but make sure you stick with whatever you tell them.
  • Don't do this when you are out of patience, having a bad week, exhausted, etc. 
    • Make sure you are in a good place emotionally. This will take a lot of patience. 
  • Put yourself in their shoes.
    • What would you hate to give up more than anything? How would it affect you? What would you do if couldn't have coffee, chocolate, carbs, wine, alone time, etc.? 
    • Think of all the years you have had to master self-control. Have you? Do you ever lash out or get upset over something? Remember, this is a 2 year old who is still learning and practicing.
  • Stay with them even if they don't want you to touch them or hold them. 
    • Think of when you were too upset for anyone to be able to console you. Doesn't it help just to know that someone is in the room in case you change your mind? Their little hearts are breaking over giving this up and they don't understand these emotions or know how to control them. They are being bad or acting up. They are simply just showing you how bad this sucks to give up their pacifier. Being present in the room with them is showing them you love them even if they don't want to be near you at the moment. 
Remember, they are still learning. They aren't a mini adult. They don't have the ability to sit quietly or blog about their loss. They just throw a fit. They aren't being bad or acting up. They are just feeling some extremely strong emotions and have to show them because they are still learning how to control them. (I should read this every day to keep me in check!)

She was playing on my computer the day we lost her binkie-boo. The last Binkie-Boo picture.

Our Princess!

What are ways you helped break the pacifier habit?

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