The Sassy Housewife is weekly advice column on Momaha.com by Danielle Herzog. She’ll cover the adventures in housewifery — from parenting, entertaining and recipes to the interests of a been-there-done-that and somewhat-know-it-all wife. Sassy Housewife runs every Saturday. Have a question for her? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dear Sassy Housewife,
My 3-year-old daughter will not give up her pacifier. We have tried to take it away numerous times, and each time she cries for longer. We took it away a few weeks ago and she literally cried in her bed for over two hours. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and gave it back to her. Now, I don’t know how to get it out of her mouth. My husband says I need to be tough and just take it away, but I don’t know if I can stand the crying. Any advice?
Pushover for Pacifiers
Dear Pushy Pants,
I should probably be honest with you straight from the start. It drives me insane when I see children who are old enough to talk, walk and have all their teeth using a pacifier. I’m sorry. I know you were probably looking for some sweet, supportive words to help you, but well… that’s just not my style. I’m going to be blunt with you – the paci has to go. Why? Because your daughter is currently winning in the game of parenthood, and kids should never win.
Your daughter is using it as a comfort object – just as many children use security blankets or stuffed animals. The only difference is that pacifiers can actually effect speech development and the way teeth grow in. Don’t believe me? According to Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D., author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers, “Older infants who use the paci are more prone to picking up colds because they are so accustomed to constantly sucking and mouthing objects (the usual entry point for germs). Also, using a pacifier for longer than a year or two can interfere with a child’s teeth and bite”.
And on top of that, she is crying until you give in. And you keep giving in. It’s time to stop giving in and have her be a part of the solution. What I mean is that you need to get her involved. Do you know anyone who has recently had a baby?
Something you can do is have your daughter pack up all her pacifiers and “pass them on” to the new baby. In return, she is allowed to pick out a lovey at the store – something she can cuddle with when she feels that same need as she did for the pacifier. (And of course, explain to your friend why you are giving her used pacifiers… though that might make for a very interesting baby shower.)
If that doesn’t work, you just have to go cold turkey. It might mean a night or two of some long-term crying, but don’t give in. When she cries, go in and give her kisses, let her know she is OK, hand her back her lovey that she has probably thrown across the room in rage, and then let her work it out. You can get back your winning hand in parenthood, you just have to stay strong. Or at least fake it in front of her – which is pretty much what all parents do to make them think we know what we are doing.
Danielle Herzog, a married mother to two, blogs for momaha every Wednesday. She taught middle and high school students and served as a student counseling advisor in the Washington D.C. area prior to moving to Omaha. She was a project manager for the Washington D.C.-area’s Boys and Girls Club and is currently completing her master’s degree in counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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