Oh my, this year has kicked off with the mighty roar of a lion at our house! My husband and I have a new, fierce resolve to rise above all the challenges that nailed us in ’09. And with this intense, “let’s make it happen” energy, there’s been a trickle-down impact on our sweet 3 year-old who was perfectly content with the status quo.
You see, one of the things we determined simply wasn’t working for us anymore was The Binky. We officially reached our limit in supporting and enabling the addiction and decided New Year’s Eve was the night to crack it and start the new year out “fresh.”
Ha ha ha.
Can’t really call the morning of January 1 particularly fresh after the crying, screaming, thrashing, begging anger that dominating the entire night. My husband described it as feeling like a scene from Trainspotting or Basketball Diaries.
And yet my intent all along was to discover a way to gently guide my daughter to choose giving up binkies herself and avoid a traumatic experience!
But alas, I reached the end of my tolerance and patience for her to make this choice on her own. I began talking to her about it gently six months ago, about how now that she’s a big girl, she doesn’t need them anymore, they’re designed for babies, it will be nice to gather all of hers now and give them away to a tiny baby….
But for months, I’ve gotten the same basic response: “I still want my binkies Mommy. I don’t want to give them away.”
On FaceBook shortly after her birthday, I had collected several great suggestions from friends for weaning the binky. Yet I found myself resisting going forward with any of the ideas because in my mind, no matter what the the trick or the ritual or the story — ultimately I knew she’d still have to go through the agony of not having them anymore.
I felt like such a co-dependent enabler!
I might have gone on enabling addiction like that indefinitely — but I have been experiencing a marked advancement in Sadie’s emotional and intellectual development that has me feeling worked over more days than not with what feels like non-stop questions and intense demands. I hear this is pretty standard between age 3 and 3 1/2 and can be significantly more challenging than the “terrible 2′s”. Definitely true in our case!
So I revisited the binky-weaning ideas shared by my friends after Sadie’s 3rd birthday:
1) Lose them and make a ritual of singing a song when she wants them.
2) Toss them over a bridge together (maybe a bridge that overlooked a landfill…..?)
3) Rely on your dentist to be the one to lure them away; some dentists are known for giving prizes in exchange for toddlers handing over their binkies.
4) Talk to your toddler about how the binky is changing the shape of his or her mouth and explain that the time has come to let it go and that you’ll be throwing them away in the morning.
5) Wrap up the binkies in a gift bag and take to the hospital to give back to the Binky Fairy who gives them to babies.
6) Create a burial ceremony of the binky with her in the back yard.
7) Snip off the ends of all binkies in the house.
We went with the last option because we hoped this would at least foster the perception of self determination. My parents did this with me and had been suggesting it for a while too.
Initial scene when she first discovered her binkies in their new trimmed state:
Sadie: “HEY! There’s a hole in my binky!!!”
Sadie: “I don’t like this! I want another binky!”
Mark: “Sorry honey, they are all like this.”
I give Mark five stars for honest, gentle parenting of Sadie through this process. I cracked and went down story-telling lane when she asked me how her binkies got holes in them.
I said, “I think because you’re so big now that you finally out-grew them and they’re just worn out and starting to get holes.” (jeez…..how lame, right?….. I felt terrible for making up a lie — which of course, she bought.)
The first night was by far the worst. By the third night, she wanted nothing to do with a binky. She’s had lots of emotional break-downs in between and lacks the perspective to connect the dots between her feelings and what’s missing. One of my friends said it’s not uncommon for toddlers to experience sleep disturbances for 2-3 weeks after weaning the binky.
Ultimately, if I could do it all over again, I would have done this six or nine months ago. I have read so many stories of 2 year-olds gleefully participating in giving their binkies to the Binky Fairy or getting excited to be part of some other planned ritual. They’ve had that much less time for habituation!
Thankfully we’re on the binky-free path now. Whew! And there’s no turning back now! I welcome ideas for supporting your child through the challenges of binky withdrawal — with the exception of lying down with her until she falls asleep which is just not feasible for us now.