Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The DePacification of My Almost Two-Year Old

We've been putting it off for months, but the day has finally arrived. Ironically, today is Ash Wednesday. I joked that our little one is giving up his pacifier for Lent. But really this is no laughing matter. Getting rid of the pacifier (or The Pas as we refer to it) was/is terrifying. Will he sleep through the night tonight? Will we ever peacefully fly on an airplane again? Will we make it through a full Mass this Sunday? These are the worries that enabled us to put off DePacification for so long. But, he's a very good sleeper, we don't have any trips coming up any time soon, and he's really good at charming the other parishioners at Church, so even if he's a little noisy I think they'll be ok with it. No more excuses!

So what's the plan? With any "big" decision (and don't kid yourself. When to get rid of the pacifier is a big decision) I wanted to come up with a plan. I've heard that some people cut the end off the end of the pacifier so that it becomes less appealing to the youngster. That just didn't feel like the right approach to me. I've heard other people explain to their child that the "Pacifier Fairy" is coming to take the pacifier to give it to babies who really need it. Sometimes the Pacifier Fairy leaves a gift for the little one in place of the pacifier. A cute idea, but I think my little guy, at 21 months is just a little too young to follow that story. I decided to go with an approach that seems to work well in a lot of other situations that he gets upset about. We say, "bye bye".

When it's time to turn off the tv, we ask him to say, "Bye Bye TV". When it's time to put away the iPhone, we ask him to say, "Bye Bye iPhone". And when it's time to leave the playground we ask him to say, "Bye Bye Playground." This approach almost always results in a smooth transition with little or no tears. I think that our little guy, like other children, like to feel a sense of control and responsibility. They like to feel a part of things. By having him say goodbye, rather than just taking away the thing he really wants, he feels like he is in control and he is able to perform the action of turning off the electronics or leaving the playground. This certainly takes some patience some days. When it is time to say, "bye bye" and he does not act after being asked a couple of times then it's time to make it a choice. The choice is always the same, "Would you like to turn the TV off or would you like mommy to turn the TV off? It's your choice." 9 out of 10 times he makes the right choice.

Since this approach is working so well in so many other areas I decided to give it a try with The Pas. I first decided today was the day and that I would start at nap time. Everything new involving sleep is better to try at nap time because if it's a disaster you hopefully don't lose too much sleep at night yourself. Right before nap time I told him that today we were going to have to say bye bye to Pas. I heard a couple little whimpers. I was kind of surprised he seemed to really understand what I was saying. Then I gathered up all the pacifiers and gave them to him. He immediately stuck one in his mouth and we walked over to the trashcan. I asked him to say, "Bye Bye Pas" and he did just that as he threw the first one into the trash. Throwing them in the trash was  not only symbolic for him getting rid of them but it was also helpful for me, so that I wouldn't have a moment of weakness and give it back to him if it had just been in the cupboard or something. He threw the last one in and immediately started crying. Yes, it was heartbreaking to see him so sad, but his tears only lasted about 90 seconds. We read a story together and he went down for his nap without making a peep. At bedtime I was so nervous that the nap time performance would not be repeated but it was! As I was putting him down I heard him say, "Pas" one time and that was it. He went to sleep happy, singing songs in his crib for 15 minutes before drifting off to sleep. Now, the real test will be making it through the night. I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous, but I am reassured knowing how well things have gone so far. Hopefully positive updates to come.

1 comment:

  1. The video of him throwing away The Pas was heartbreaking. But I think you nailed it in this post. He said bye bye and was able to choose to grow up.

    I also appreciate that you did this while I was out of town!