Many parents wean their children off pacifiers within the first year. Some children continue to use their binkies a bit longer, which can potentially lead to dental problems. If your preschooler is still clinging to his or her pacifier, here are a few ways you can help him or her kick the dependency on it.
Be Unified in Your Plan
Before you attempt to wean your preschooler off the pacifier, make sure everyone is aware of your plans. You need the message about pacifier use to be consistent everywhere your child goes. If not, he or she could have even more trouble getting rid of the pacifier.
There is a bonus to talking to everyone about your intentions. Preschools, such as Country Day School, have staff members and teachers who can give you advice based on experience and what they have observed with your child. You can incorporate that advice into your plan.
Take Your Time
Even though you might be in a rush to take the pacifier from your child, he or she will need time. Going cold turkey can lead to anxiety, which can make for a few rough days. Your child's negative reaction to losing his or her pacifier could even last weeks.
Talk to your child about using the pacifier less. Work with him or her to reach a compromise. For instance, instead of allowing him or her to use it throughout the day, only allow it at bedtime and naptime. If your toddler knows that the alternative is giving it up completely, he or she will be more willing to negotiate for the reduced time.
Offer a Reward
Although bribing your child is a bad idea, rewarding them for good behavior is not. In this instance, the good behavior would be not using the pacifier. For a brief period, you can offer your preschooler a reward for not using the pacifier.
For instance, you can create a chart and give your child a sticker for each day he or she does not use the pacifier. At the end of a period, you can offer a reward. The reward does not have to be big. It can be as simple as a small toy or dinner at your child's favorite restaurant.
Giving up the pacifier can be more challenging than some parents realize. However, by listening to your child and understanding his or her emotions, you can help him or her get off of the pacifier.
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