Last year Gabriella and Ava gave up their dummies when they were two and a half and one and a half. I was so fed up with hunting the house for dummies, getting up in the night when they had lost their dummies, and I felt that they were both old enough to give them up. The process was far better than I had anticipated and went brilliantly. Here are five things that were key to making it a success;
1 The buildup
The planning and buildup were vital in making the whole process as stress-free as possible for us all. It was around summer that I began getting the girls ready to give up their dummies, and I planted the idea in their heads. I had decided that I was going to do ‘Elf of the Shelf’ that Christmas and the girls would give the elf their dummies in return for a present of their choice. I didn’t push the idea, but I would consistently mention it and would increase talking about it the closer we got to Christmas. If you Don’t celebrate Christmas, then, of course, you could choose an event that is fun and exciting, such as a birthday or new year. I think whatever event you chose, it is really important to spend the time leading up to it talking about the change that is about to take place and focusing on the positives.
2 It was at their pace
Encouraging the girls to have the choice over their actions is something I’m passionate about. On the first of December Twinkles (our elf) came and every morning when the girls came through to see what she had been up to I asked them if they were ready to give up their dummies. Every morning they said ‘not yet’, I just left it, and we got on with our day. On the 9th day, Twinkies had put toilet roll around the Christmas tree which the girls found highly amusing. I asked Gabriella like I did every morning if she was ready and to my surprise, she said yes. I was so pleased that she had decided on her own and I think that it made the process a lot easier and made her feel in control.
3 They were getting something in return
I had asked the girls to chose a present that they wanted in return for their dummies, and they both said they wanted Moana toys. The gift was a huge incentive for them to give up their dummies and I think it made a big difference. A couple of days after giving Twinkles their dummies I set the toys up with some twinking pink fairy lights, and the girls were so excited that Twinkles had brought the toys they asked for. Giving them the present helped to take the focus away from losing their dummies, and to them gaining their new toys.
4 I removed myself from blame
It was really important to me that the days after giving up their dummies wouldn’t be stressful. Since it was Twinkles taking the dummies away, it meant that it wasn’t me that as responsible and they couldn’t direct any frustration towards me. Ava was a bit younger, and she kept asking where her dummy was in the first few days and was asking for it but I kept reminding her that Twinkles had it and she accepted it very quickly without any major upset. I think there might have been a couple of incidents where there were arguments over giving them up, but I just reminded them that it was Twinkles that took them and removed myself.
5 we made it fun and magical
We created the story that Twinkles would take their dummies and deliver them to babies who needed them. The girls liked the idea that they were helping babies. We focused a lot on the magic that Twinkles brought, and how happy the babies would feel with their dummies. They both found it so magical when they saw Twinkles with the new toys and the fairy lights, and it was such a special moment that they still talk about now. Again, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the idea of turning another year older and being a ‘big girl’ or boy is really exciting for toddlers and helping someone younger than them can bring a lot of pride. Its all about having fun with the process and made it exciting and fun so that there is no negative feelings and emotions. When the girls talk about giving up their dummies, they look back on it as an exciting experience.
I hope that this can help anyone who is thinking of taking their toddlers dummies away and gives you some fun ideas. I had been dreading taking the girls dummies away, but using these 5 things made the process fun and stress-free. Good luck!