I hate to say it, but for many, many years, my husband and I have been guilty of enabling our children's secret addiction...the pacifier. I am talking about one bedtime pacifier in the mouth, and one in each hand. Minimum.
My 5.5 year old and 3.5 year old have been in love with their pacifiers (or "baas" as they call them) since birth. To say the pacifier has played a VERY important role in our lives would be an understatement. My kids would "need" pacifiers to fall asleep, run to their rooms to take a "hit" off them when they were upset, and tried daily to sneak them out of their rooms so they could enjoy more frequent use. The babe would suck on one pacifier, switch to another and suck on that one, switch to another and suck on that one, and so on and so on. I found it disturbing, to say the least.
It became evident our offspring were not going to give up the pacifier on their own, as my husband and I had hoped. We repeatedly encouraged the kids to stop "using," but for years our words fell on deaf ears. And frankly, we didn't have the guts to do anything about it. They say to pick your battles and we already had a long list.
More recently, however, the babe started to clue in that other kids her age do not use pacifiers and have not used pacifiers for some time. She was at the point where she was embarrassed by her pacifier use and was openly talking about wanting to quit. Whenever she would boldly state that she was going to sleep without them, she would break down and give in to her desire to be soothed by her baas. It hurt (for numerous reasons) to watch her battle with what had become a true addiction.
The little guy was at the point where he would run to his room countless times a day just to suck on his pacifiers. He would wail for his baas whenever he was upset and frequently agreed to nap because he would get to use his sweet plastic pacifier.
Our amazing pediatric dentist had indicated that the extended pacifier use was altering their tooth and jaw development and needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. She suggested poking holes in all the pacifiers so the kids would not enjoy the same sucking sensation and would quit on their own. We tried. It didn't work.
It was evident the problem was not going to handle itself. After researching different "methods," we came to the conclusion that we had to go cold turkey. We didn't make a big deal out of it. We didn't psyche the kids out. We didn't bury the baas in the garden or give them to a baby in need. My husband simply collected all of the pacifiers, "threw them away" (i.e. hid them in his sock drawer), and told the kids they didn't need them anymore. The process of breaking up with the pacifier had begun.
Long story short, the kids have now made it 10 nights. It is now safe to say they've kicked the ugly habit. The babe, who has relied on her pacifier for two more years than her brother, had a tougher time with it. There were some very sad withdrawal moments which were tough to deal with, but ultimately, both our kids have proven to themselves that they can self soothe and fall asleep without those nasty little things.
My kids aren't relying on a crutch anymore. My husband and I are no longer enablers. We are a better family because of it. We have achieved a new level of freedom, and it feels good. Really good.