Weaning from the Pacifier

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I received the following question from Tiana:


I would like to know if you have any suggestions as to how to help get my children (21/2 and 41/2 years old) off of using a pacifier.  I have never really worried about it before and let them use it as they please because I know it comforts them and I did not see any harm.  I also remember my mother allowing me to suck my thumb as long as I wanted to and she never nagged me or made me feel bad about it.  How wonderful my feelings are about that now looking back. I eventually gave up thumb sucking on my own free will as a freshman in high school.    I took Lawson to the orthodontist today because he has a large open mouth overbite that is affecting his speech and teeth.  The orthodontist did say that the pacifier was definitely adding to the problem.  I made him say it again, "Are you SURE?"

He was actually pretty nice and said that he thought it was important to somehow get the child on board with the decision to stop using it and not just rip them away. I want to make sure that I do this in the most kind, respectful way as possible...if possible. I also feel as though I need to do the same with his little brother Ryan because it would be so hard for him to see his brother still using a passy.  Help! Opinions? Suggestions?


Sorry to be so long responding. Your dentist may not like my answer (and I'm not sure about it either). I wonder if your son will have to have braces anyway because of his overbite? If that is true, maybe you could just do what your mom did. In a totally different direction, remember that weaning is never easy for the weanor or the weanie, but is essential for ultimate personal growth. Watch this movie called "The Push", a story by David McNalley, and see if helps with the message I'm trying to convey.

I have heard many parents talk about "losing" the passies and having faith in their children to survive. Lately, I've been talking a lot about the importance of allowing children to suffer (very different from "making them suffer") so they can develop their "disappointment muscles," and can learn, from experience, that they have resilience. In the long run, this will help them feel more capable. Now you get to decide what you want to do. 

Tiana was a little frustrated with my answer and jokingly wondered if I was being a—well, here are her words:

Jane, the reply was quick as far as I am concerned.  Were you being the "correct type" of therapist...not giving a direct answer...just two sides of the coin and letting me make the decision?  Because I am bit confused on which side of the fence you are on.  Yes, Lawson will definitely have to have braces and much more as this is a Jaw issue also, regardless of using or not using the passy.  The dentist said that the pacifier sucking does not negatively affect all children.  In Lawson's case it is making it much worse due to the congenital jaw issue.  We will be getting a second opinion before we do anything to his teeth, etc. So I watched the video and really liked it. I have to say to that my boys have not had too many opportunities to build a lot of strength through experiences like that.  So I am thinking that I enlist their help on ideas of how to give them up, stay positive, be empathetic to their struggle and reassure them that I believe in their ability to do this.  Thank you for your great words of wisdom and help. 

I want to point out that I was not being a "correct type" therapist. (And, she was just joking.) I was "weaning" Tiana. I wanted to give her some possibilities and then have faith in her that she would do what felt right for her and her children. From her inner wisdom, Tiana came up with a solution that was so much better than anything I could have suggested:

So I report good news.  I sat down and talked to Lawson about it and asked him how he wanted to let go of his passy? He immediately had a reply. He said he wanted to gather them all up. Wash them and them put them in a zip lock bag and give them to my sister for when she eventually had a baby. Soooo sweet. So we did it.  Little brother following along as usual.  They whined a little in the afternoon and just a little at night.  I reassured them and that was it. It was pretty painless. This morning Lawson came running in, announcing, "I knew I could do it".  

Thank you so much again for passing along the video.  I am sure I will have to watch it many more times in the years to come as the push will be about a lot more than a passy.

I enjoyed Tiana’s enthusiasm for her success so much that I asked if she would let me interview her for a podcast—which she graciously accepted. Please listen to learn some of the finer points of Tiana's gentle push that led to her success in using the weaning process to help her children feel more capable.

Podcast  - Weaning From The Pacifier

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