How my children gave up their soother

I'm amazed how quickly my children seem to have grown up lately.  Kabouter sure has gained a lot of maturity and independence since he's in grade 1 but also Beertje is losing the last characteristics of toddlerhood now that he's training to sleep without a diaper.   "I told you I will never sleep without a diaper again" he claims each night...hmm double negations is just a bit too much complexity for him.
The nights go with and without success but it's incredible that in just 2 weeks you forget all about putting on diapers. You seem immediately adjusted to that new diaperless reality.

Similarly, it seems decades ago that our children were running around with a soother in their mouth. And yet it's only 3 months since Beertje managed to give his up.

I realised I've never shared how that process has gone for both our children.  Both were quite attached to their pacifier.


Kabouter used his pacifier quite actively until he started at school.  The soother got a place in his backpack and as soon as the bell rang and we walked on the school ground he cheered "mommy is there" and immediately opened his backpack to take out his soother.  He was not happy to see us but the rules were that he could only take it out when his parents were there.

Once in kindergarden we slowly weaned him off to less usage: the pacifier could not be in the backpack anymore the next year, but waited at home and after a while (I can't date it anymore) it stayed in his bedroom.

At the age of 3 however he still needed his soother strongly to sleep. But he tries to please and do well so hard so now and then he tried to "just hold it in his hand" instead of placing it in his mouth. A bit later I found him asleep with the thing in his mouth again of course.

One week before his 4th birthday, his soother broke. He'd been biting it so hard that it had a hole in it for a while and suddenly it snapped in two.  I quickly improvised that his teeth for a 4 year old now were too big for a soother, that we could buy a new soother but that it would break again.
With a tear in his eye, he nodded seriously. He understood.  He wanted to know if he could still hold it in his hand. Of course he could.  So the poor little boy went to bed for a week, holding tightly to the chain with the broken pacifier.  My heart broke.

After a while he didn't hold it anymore and he went to bed without.


Beertje's story is quite in line with his older brother.  The first months at school he napped at noon so for that reason he also got his pacifier in his backpack...Of course that led to a drama one night when it had been left behind but got returned just before the doors got locked. 

As soon as we got confirmation that he did no longer nap in the pre-school group, we also introduced the rule that the pacifier had to stay at home.   And after a few months we tried to only leave it upstairs but that was harder. Beertje's priority is not to please us.  Beertje knows what he wants, he takes initiative....he'd go and get it back and showed it proudly with a giggle. He'd often continue to use it during day-time when at home.

A change came during our trip in Canada previous Spring where we put the soother each morning in the suitcase only to get out again when arriving in the evening at a new hotel.  He learned to live without it during the day even when tired and napping in the car.   From that onward it was only used in bed anymore.  

Now that he was well passed the age of 3, I also started to work on his awareness that big boys don't have a pacifier.  It didn't seem to impress him at all. But when packing our suitcases for our Gran Canaria vacation at the end of October, he all of a sudden announced to Jan that he'd not use his pacifier when on vacation. When we double checked whether we did not have to take it along with us, he confirmed.  (we didn't take the risk...I didn't want to have an endlessly crying toddler in the hotel room far away from home).  When we arrived in our hotel room and had to go to bed, he asked where his pacifier was.  "At home, remember."  "Oh yes, that's right" was the answer and he went to bed without an issue the entire week. He had taken a decision and respected it.

When we returned at home late at night, we put him in bed before we had unpacked the suitcases with the hidden pacifier at the bottom.  "Where is my pacifier", he asked "I was not going to use it on vacation. We are back".

What followed was me trying to be more stubborn that my little boy , refusing to give back the pacifier after sleeping so successfully without it, an hour of crying and screaming and Jan taking up a mediator role. His negotiation resulted in the return of the pacifier with the promise Beertje would give it up the next day but needed one day to use it one last time. I was so upset at Jan for giving in. I was certain that we were gone again for months.  But Beertje slept well that night.  And the next day when I walked in his room, he approached me holding his soother with stretched arms in front of him. "here you are". He keeps his promises.

Ok I have to admit that a few weeks later he has suggested a few times that he had now been without it for long enough so that he had done enough effort and could use it again but I've managed to counter that. Instead he now sleeps with 2 stuffed animals instead of one.  In the mean time the memory of pacifiers seems to be part of a far past already. 

What is a struggle at one moment is all of a sudden over and then you wonder how they grew so big and mature all of a sudden.


Anne said…
Zot hè, hoe snel dat opeens kan gaan. En hoe rap het allemaal in de verleden tijd ligt. Flinke kindjes!

Ik had twee duimertjes. Bij de oudste is het een gans gevecht geweest om haar ermee te laten ophouden, een gevecht dat ik op een gegeven moment opgegeven heb, het had echt geen zin. Tot ze op een bepaald moment zelf besloot dat ze er te oud voor werd, en ermee stopte. Hehe. De jongste duimde ook, maar die is er vroeger en zonder gevecht mee gestopt.

De oudste kleindochter doet helemaal niks. Geen tuutje, geen duim, niks. En de kleinste, tja, die heeft haar tuutje. En ik vind het soms echt grappig om zien, hoe verknocht ze is aan dat tuutje.

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