She's three years old, there are sores around her mouth, and her bite has a gap she can stick her finger in. It's time. A couple of weeks ago I tried to change the rule so that she only used it upstairs in the house--anywhere upstairs--but she was so distraught and anxious that I told her we could wait to set that rule. Turns out she was getting sick. But for a few days I talked to her about how we were going to have to change the rule soon, told her about her teeth and about the sores and how the paci was causing these problems. I told her how sorry I am that she can't have the paci forever. I also told her big girls don't use them. I don't like playing the big girl card--I believe it often backfires and encourages them to just act like and decide to be babies. Also, it's so much pressure--to be big and grown perhaps before they're ready. But it's also the truth. She's three now, she's getting to be a big girl, and the truth is that big girls don't use them.
So I waited a few days, talked about it, and got her sort of on board. The doctor says we should just have the paci disappear one day, just get lost. He says there will be a few rough nights after that (yeah, I'd say!) but I don't know. I don't know that I like that approach. It seems heartless, for one thing. She's having to adjust to many new things, to new skills and the idea of being big, which is scary to children. And just then to take away the thing that gives her the most comfort...? I don't know.
She doesn't ever need it at school, or at the kid area at the gym, or at her sitter's house, so clearly it's just a habit. But the anxiety of not having it at bedtime or when she's really really upset is very real to her. Just because I think it's not necessary does not diminish her very real feelings about it. It seems to me that having it just vanish is disrespectful to her, and also doesn't give her very much credit for being able to do this on her own. It is her paci, after all. And I think she's capable of understanding the problems it causes. My next step is to get her to the dentist and let the dentist tell her about how she's going to have to let it go. Maybe an authority figure that isn't me will help things along.
She's definitely got an oral fixation. Downstairs, now that the paci's not allowed, there's much gum chewing. I'm fine with that. But if we can break the habit down here, and when she's watching tv, and when she's in the car, it will be great progress. Then maybe we can restrict it just to bedtime. Mitch says it's kind of like quitting smoking by cutting down to fewer and fewer cigarettes and the feeling I got from that was that he thought it was a bogus approach, but come to think of it I quit smoking that way. Funny.