Week 14/2022

After a glorious week, full of sunshine and blooming signs of Spring, the beginning of April hit us hard with a few days of snow and much, much cooooold.

There was a huge amount of work and few possibilities of doing outdoor activities, except for the usual runs to the park, where we have to go almost every day if we don’t to other things.

Even though it was the usual huff and puff, there is one huge highlight for this week. It was the week we helped Toddler separate from her pacifier.

We gave Toddler a pacifier when she was a baby for many reasons, the strongest ones being reducing the risk of SIDS and preventing her from sucking her thumb (my siblings and I sucked our thumbs and my parents severely struggled with getting us to stop it).

Initially, our goal was to get her to stop using the pacifier when she turned two. At the time, the terrible twos were in full blast. We didn’t feel that she was ready for that step, and neither were we, even though we had managed to reduce pacifier use mostly to the moments of falling asleep. So, when she turned 2.5 and we found that we had reached the end of the tunnel with the terrible twos, we decided on a date and we started preparing ourselves and her for it.

Here is what we did:

  • We decided on a story in which the Easter Bunny would come down through the chimney, take the pacifier for other babies who might need it and leave her a gift.
  • Around three weeks before the date, we started talking to her about what was going to happen and stuck to our story.
  • We told our friends and Toddler’s educators at the crèche and we made sure she overheard us telling people about it. On one hand, it consolidated the story and, on the other hand, we made sure we were holding ourselves accountable (because we knew it would be a challenge for us too).
  • On Friday, the day before the due date, we brought the crèche pacifiers home. That evening, we had decided the Easter Bunny would drop by and leave a gift too, before coming the following night and taking the home pacifier (the one she was attached to the most). Like this, we made sure she had a realistic idea of what was going to happen.
  • We left the crèche pacifiers in the fireplace with a little carrot for the Bunny. The next morning, she came downstairs to find a puzzle with a panda and a book. She spent the whole day playing proudly with her new puzzle.
  • On Saturday evening, I let her get into her pyjamas with the pacifier and told her that after that, just before her milk, we would go and put the pacifier in the fireplace. And so we did. She cried a bit, not wanting to let go, so I told her she could put it in the envelope I had set out when she was ready. A few seconds later, she took it, put it in the envelope and fell into my arms, crying. I might have been crying too.
  • I took her to have her milk bottle and to sleep, which was very hard for her. She cried for her pacifier for a long time before succumbing to fatigue and finally falling asleep. I was prepared for it, and stayed with her for the whole time she took to get to sleep.
  • The next day, she came down to the living room very excited to see what the Easter Bunny had left her and was over the moon to find a doctor’s briefcase. She liked it so much, she slept her nap with it and made everyone in the house her patient a few times.
  • The next two days, she still asked for the pacifier, but as time passed the questions were less emotional and more matter of fact. Now, a full month after the event, she barely mentions her own pacifier, but really enjoys giving her “babies” and other real babies theirs.

The takeaway from this experience is that, despite their young age, Toddlers embrace challenges quite bravely, as long as they are prepared and are accompanied with empathy and care in navigating their difficult emotions. Even though there are many challenges with which we struggle in raising a child, I am definitely proud of this particular challenge and of its outcome, I must say!

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