Did we break our kids?
July 13, 2010 6:35 PM   Subscribe

We took away two of our sons' pacifiers last week, and they're significantly crabbier. Can we help them get back to their old (relatively happy) selves?

We have identical triplet sons, aged two and a half. Oliver sucks his thumb, so he is not part of the question. (I'm sure it will be a future one, though.)

We decided that the other two, Miles and Linus, were getting a bit old for the pacifier, and more importantly, their front teeth were getting pushed up so they looked like vampires next to Oliver. (This is where genetically identical children come in handy.)

The binkies have been their only real comfort objects since birth (I've tried repeatedly to introduce blankets and stuffed animals, to no avail) and I was wary of taking them away and leaving the boys with nothing to soothe them.

So we took them to Build-A-Bear and let them pick out bears and when they were being stuffed, they put their binky into the bear. I'd heard of this working for other parents, and I liked the idea of giving them a replacement "soother".

Sleep went better than I expected afterwards, but now Miles is so, so crabby. It's kind of heartbreaking. And Linus is putting everything in his mouth.

What can we do to help, short of giving the binkies back? Do we just need to be patient? I'm actually a little worried we scarred them for life.
posted by pyjammy to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't break them, I promise. They'll get over it. They slept? You've overcome half the problem already, I think. Are they asking for the binkies back? That might become a problem, if they are.

We talked our son into trading in his bink for some super-awesome Tonka truck thing and yes, he was crabby for a while, and sleep did NOT go well for us for quite some time, but he's 13 now and isn't scarred for life. He sleeps just fine (believe me, JUST FINE) now and is generally a happy, well-adjusted teenager.

They'll get over it, you did not break them. Be patient. Offer more cuddles, more reading time, more parent time. Be more understanding during crabby times. Again: they'll get over it.
posted by cooker girl at 6:57 PM on July 13, 2010

I was three years old when my family moved houses, and my paccy "got lost" in the move. I WAS SO FUCKING PISSED! I mourned that thing as long as my parents would pay attention to my tantrum. They were smart; they gave me a few hours and then taught me how to make a fort out of empty boxes.

Miles and Linus are not scarred for life. (Now, if you take away Linus' blanket, we're going to have a problem.) They're probably not even scarred for this week. They'll forget pacifiers even existed--and then in a couple years you'll make some reference to their binkies and they'll be all "UGH, MOM, binkies are for BABIES!"
posted by sallybrown at 7:10 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hang tight! you and they will make it. Give them a replacement activity during the tough times, but it won't take long.
posted by kch at 7:16 PM on July 13, 2010

I remember pretty clearly, when I was 3 or 4 years old, my mom went to buy me a pacifier (supposedly). However she came out of the store empty-handed, telling me that they wouldn't sell her the pacifier, because I was too old. I accepted her explanation and was fine.

might not be helpful for you, though...
posted by bearette at 8:40 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Reminds me of long ago when I was babysitting my very young nephew. He asked for his binky, and I found a small basket full of them and dumped them all on his bed. "Here you go." "Thank you Uncle Newt!" he told me in the most ecstatic voice I had ever heard him use. I was now the coolest Uncle and the coolest babysitter in the world.

Which, I realized, meant that I had just done something very, very wrong.

My sister had been collecting all his various binkies around the house into the basket in an effort to wean him from them. That there was a basket full of them tells you how important they were to him.

The only constant at this age, though, is change. They brains, minds, bodies, and perception and interests are in constant flux, and sometimes they will cling to something familiar in an attempt to stem this unending and overwhelming transformation.

But despite their best attempts at being grumpy, they will soon no longer want the binkies and even forget, or at least not want to admit, that they ever used them.
posted by eye of newt at 9:38 PM on July 13, 2010

posted by eye of newt at 9:39 PM on July 13, 2010

I totally feel your pain. My 3 year old (called Oliver!) loves his pacifier. His 1 year old brother is all about the fingers and won't take a pacifier. We had gradually reduced pacifier usage so he was only allowed his pacifier for sleeping at night, no other times. We had been talking to him recently about the pacifier fairy, who takes away the pacifier for a new baby who needs one, and leaves a gift in exchange. Then opportunity struck, one evening we couldn't find the pacifier*, so we decided to go with it (though that lousy pacifier fairy didn't have a gift ready, sheesh). Its been a week now, and he still asks for it at bedtime, but doesn't really complain. When we tell him the pacifier fairy took it away, and gave it to a little baby who needed it, he complains that he was still using it. But he sleeps just fine (smacking his lips as if it were still there). Now I've done the deed, I feel horribly guilty about depriving him of it, but there's no turning back, and honestly, he's fine. Although I have seen him sucking his fingers a few times...

*we found it within minutes but hid it from him. Let's hope there's no spares around the house!
posted by Joh at 11:10 PM on July 13, 2010

We went the Binky Fairy route for our eldest (at age 3). We called a local toy store and asked them to serve as an official Binky Fairy Drop Off Point. My daughter boxed up her binkies and decorated the box, then we went to the toy store, where she picked out a new toy and traded her box of binkies for it (while I discreetly paid). She very clearly understood that the binkies were gone and not coming back, but it took a while for her to get over the addiction.

She always turned the handle of the pacifier up so that it was pressing against her nose. About a week after the binkies were gone, she looked at me very earnestly at bedtime and said, "Mom, I know I can't use binkies any more, but I want something to put into my mouth and up against my nose." That may have been the first time she was really disappointed by her mommy. She was sure I was going to come up with some non-binky option that would serve the same purpose. Binkies Lite.

Eventually she got used to not having them any more, but binkies were beloved and missed for a long time even after the habit was thoroughly broken. Just hang in there. Your boys will get past this. I recommend a few extra treats to help them along. Popsicles, suckers, and frozen drinks they can suck through straws are especially good at relieving the binky jonesing.
posted by Dojie at 5:51 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our son would cry in little whisper at nights about his pacifier when we took away. It was like lost first love.

The worst/best was him randomly finding one from somewhere and being so happy and bringing it to us to show. And then we would just take it away and he would be have really hurt & confused look for a while. Took about week and he was totally done...
posted by zeikka at 6:45 AM on July 14, 2010

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