How to Get Your Child to Give Up a Pacifier with One Gesture

Sleeping in a basket at Ikea. Without Paci. And with a cold pillow.

Or, “how to prey on your child’s neurotic tendencies.”

I won’t go so far as to say that Jasper is the baby equivalent of Woody Allen or anything, but he does tend towards the slightly neurotic. The idea of certain things just FREAK him out. Weird things, like lately the way his PJ zipper buckles up and pushes into his belly makes him absolutely nuts. He insists that I “hold his PJs” to keep it from happening.   Or his insistence that his pillow be just the right temperature (I want a COLD pillow mommy!!!) or how he will let out a blood curdling scream if he gets a hair in his mouth.

So last week Jeff made what I would have considered to be a sort of off hand remark to Jasper about how using Paci was going to make his teeth all funny.  Then, and this is I think what did it, he did this little  hand gesture thing to demonstrate.  He put the back of his hand up against his mouth and wiggled his fingers out – the effect sort of reminded me of Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean – i.e a little squid like or something.  Ok, it was a tiny bit freaky, but nothing that you would ever think would get a toddler to give up their beloved Paci.. a toddler who would actually KISS his paci goodbye before leaving it in the car for daycare, a toddler who has not taken a nap or gone to sleep without their Paci in over two years.

But that’s exactly what happened.  That one little freaky gesture and Jasper handed over his Paci and hasn’t demanded it ONCE since. Not even at bedtime, naptime, for car rides or any other time when it would have been previously inconceivable that he should do that activity without a Paci in his mouth.

In fact, the next morning he hugged his bear and proudly announced “I don’t use Paci anymore. I use bear, but not Paci!”

I know that with such a sensitive child we need to be very careful about what we say to him, that we don’t fuel his fears either intentionally or unintentionally, but I have to say this was one of the very few breaks we’ve caught in terms of avoiding an EPIC battle that would have involved a lot of misery for all parties involved.

The two short term goals with Jasper that we have to tackle but have been essentially procrastinating were pacifier elimination and potty training.  Now we are down to just the latter..

So, does anyone have any ideas for single gesture methods of scaring your child into potty training? :)

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SarahD says:

That is super that it was so easy!! I have three boys, all three who loved their soother until I finally had to take it away before they turned 3. I let them keep it that long, only because my sister had hers taken at 2 and went straight to thumb sucking, which terrified me more.
As far as potty training…I’m done with my three-hooray!! I had a few failed attempts with my first, until I got desperate when he was 2yrs8months. I figured enough was enough, and so we went straight to undies. I stayed home and it took about 3 days of following him around and limiting our activities, and a few messes, but he got the idea that I was not giving in and putting him in a diaper. I would let him wear cloth at night to ensure he felt when he was wetting himself. It took a week. I did the same for my next two kids, and they also…at just before age 3, were night/day trained in one week. I have a feeling that Jasper won’t enjoy being dirty, or getting poop on his fancy new undies…so it might be easy! If after a week, nothing is going anywhere…pack it in and try again in a month. But cold turkey is best in my opinion!!

Kimberly says:

Yay for Jasper!!! (Nice work, Jeff! ;)
I am so in the thick of potty-training dread… James has not had any interest at all… I’ve had a little potty in the house since he was like 22 months old, and I always have offered if he wanted to try going on the potty but when he (always!) said “no,” I just said, “ok…”

Now I’ve gotten to the point where I am SOOOO sick of changing what have become really big, nasty poopy diapers and buying (and throwing away) diapers for TWO kids… even though Matthew is in cloth about half the time.

James suddenly showed a bunch of interest one day about 3 weeks ago in wearing the “big boy underwear” he got for Christmas, so I sat him on his (new, Cars) potty and he sat for a long time and finally did pee a little in it. I was so excited… he got to wear his cool Cars underwear (over a pair of training pants – I’m anti-pullup) and he did have an accident, but no biggie. I rewarded him for the interest and effort by buying him the first of the Thomas trains he’s all of a sudden into, and I told him that when he was fully out of diapers I would buy him all the characters.

He gets it, he talks about it, he looks forward to it… but he’s just not into sitting on the potty. And it’s funny, because he is a very meticulous boy otherwise… hates having sticky or dirty hands or clothes, and always wants to be changed right away if he’s dirty… I can’t for the life of me figure out why he’s so resistant to going in the toilet when I absolutely KNOW he’s ready on so many levels. On some level, I agree, Ari…it’s just so much easier to change diapers, but mostly I am just SO OVER IT. I hope it happens soon, because it’s seriously such a frustrating process!!! Please keep us posted on Jasper’s progress… since he and James are so close in age and so similar in skills, I will be really interested to see how it goes for him! And, maybe I can get some pointers. :)

jbhat says:

Ohhhh. I meant to not introduce our little one to the pacifier, just to have one less thing to deal with later…but later has become now…and of course, I did introduce it somewhere along the way, as a short-term sanity saver. And now its use has revealed what an addictive personality our little girl has. She is constantly asking for her DT (what we call it; long story) when we are anywhere in the vicinity of her room, even when it’s not “nigh-nigh”, and it drives me batty. “DT! DT!” she cries, all panicky. OMG. I need to cut her off or she will have squid teeth!

But hey, congratulations to you! That’s pretty amazing, and gives me confidence when we go all cold turkey on DT.

Nanette says:

Love this post! Yay for no more paci!

Crystal says:

Woo-Hoo – Congrats! We had a similar amazing surprise when we brought Evan home from a basketball game a couple weeks ago and as we got in the car told him we “forgot” the Paci at home, so he’d have to fall asleep in the car without it. He did, and I tiptoed up the stairs to nap hoping he wouldn’t realize we were home where Paci was and sleep without it – and he didn’t wake! That one nap sans the mouth lovey made him realize he didn’t need it any more, and we too have been paci-free since. Yippee!!! He did ask once, but when I told him Big Boys don’t need pacis, he fully agreed. The downside is we now go through Target (or anywhere) and he points at everyone using a Paci – “Baby! Babies use pacis! I a Big Boy” he announces. Cute if it is a baby, but not so much if it’s not a baby…

Can’t wait to hear some one-step potty tricks – what a wonderful world THAT would be!!

Monika says:

Great job with pacifier. This gives me hope that my 15 month old one day will give it up so easily too. I’m from Europe and in my country we start potty training when they turn two. I already got a potty for Kacper and will start soon. Good luck to me:)

Lourdes says:

That’s awesome! We keep saying we’ll work on breaking the paci habit when Wes cuts his last molars, but those suckers haven’t made an appearance yet!

Wesley is much younger (22 months), but as to potty training, I can tell you that he has 0 interest in the potty that we placed in the bathroom eons ago. We don’t force at all, but even a slight suggestion to use it is met with resounding disinterest.

But, at daycare he’s moving to a toddler room in the next month, and they potty train. The first couple of months the only change is that they don’t use changing tables anymore – all the diaper changes take place standing up in the bathroom. When they sense some interest from the child, they place him on a 30 minute timer just taking them to the bathroom to see if the diaper is wet/dirty and encourage using the potty. The third stage is supposedly them using the potty by themselves. The teachers in this particular room he’s going to seem pretty efficient. When I spoke to them last, only 4 children out of their room of 20 or so were still in diapers, and that’s all children under 3.

At the same time, it’s not a big deal to me how long he takes. But I can see how the rules at daycare can create problems — or help! — parents.

Alexandria says:

Say “Eww Jasper all your friends are going to think your gross if you use a diaper” and point & laugh.

Just kidding ;-)

ali says:

This is why I love blogs–commraderie! My Miles also has quirks that have just popped up thanks to one comment we have made. My husband said that my discarded hair looks like a spider (which, may I add, he is terrified of–the hubs, I mean!), and now when Miles sees my hair, which happens to be everywhere since I’ve been pregnant and shedding since 2008, he screams “MOMMY HAIR!” And the look on his face is just terrified. He cannot even touch it. God forbid he finds some in the bath while bathing.

I’m with you on the potty training, too. I intellectually hear that boys train later, etc, but I am working really hard not to panic that we are getting no where fast at a few months shy of 3. It started with accidental pee and poop in the potty, and then one day he pooped in the tub by accident…and it was all over. We’ve bribed, sang songs, potty danced, even put his little baby brother on…told him a potty is a “tunnel” like Thomas uses. Nope. He’ll sit at night before bath, and then ask for a diaper to poop. I think like everyone said, you just have to be patient, and wait until they are ready. (And pray it isn’t when they are in middle school.)

chantal says:

Awesome! Annora gave up the paci on her own at about 10 months, thank goodness, but Kai seems to be much more orally fixated than she ever was. As far as potty training goes, we’ve tried twice and it was not good. Annora is OCD about messes and she’d flip out that she peed on the floor (like, would not walk on the floor for 3 days because it was “dirty) and doesn’t want to pee or poo in the toilet because then the toilet will be messy. Sigh. We spoke to the doctor about it and even he didn’t have any suggestions! Looking forward to reading about Jasper’s adventures in this regard.

GiGi says:

I was forced to force Loli. He was about 2 months shy of turning 4. We were told he could not move up to the next room at daycare unless he was potty trained. So I took a week off of work and made it my only project. At first we carried the potty to every room in the house and made him sit on it for every activity (aside from meals). That way, when he would just go w/out thinking about it, it would be in the potty and we could reward him for it. We did rewards with a sticker chart. And for every 5 – 10 stickers there were wrapped presents like hot wheels cars and tiny Buzz Lightyear figurines. The first time he went over night w/out an accident, it was a new book. Then for whole days w/out an accident at school – some present. Eventually, when he went an entire week at school without an accident, he got a Buzz Lightyear watch (which he still has though it’s too small for him to wear). it was not the most effective method and it was a horrible battle. But like Jasper, the peer pressure thing didn’t work. I didn’t want to push it, I would have much preferred to wait until he was really ready, but we had to do it for daycare, so we did it. Was a sucky week, let me tell ya. But there was looking back after that week.

GL to you!

Jennifer says:

Some of my friends had much better luck having the teachers at their kids’ daycares doing most of the work toward PT, but I think that largely depends on the teacher and the daycare. I wouldn’t know; all three are at home with me (ugh!) … We did do a reward chart with the first one to help him not have accidents.

I just looked up the archives on my blog and I’d forgotten that it wasn’t in-one-day with the first boy. I guess it took about 2 weeks for him to finally be rid of the diapers. http://davejenbarnes.com/archives/1231 is the first boy and the 2nd boy: http://davejenbarnes.com/archives/2855

Heather says:

I’m surprised all the other kids are potty trained before age 3, especially if they’re boys.

heartartz says:

Your story reminded me of our son.
My Mom was coming to visit and on the phone she said ” I am bringing your 2nd birthday presents but you have to throw away the binky..if you have a binky no presents.”
Later that evening he asked me and I said well yes that is what she said. He walked to the trash, pulled the binky out of his mouth in one giant pop, dropped it in the trash and said all gone. Like you I feared he would cry for it at night. He never did. He was done.
As for potty training, he had super hero jockies and although he did not like getting them wet, it took a long time to achieve that goal.
Our second son, now that is a looong story…noting worked till he decided he was ready. Lets just say by the time he was 3 1/2 he was binky and diaper (pull-up) free!

Jen says:

One of your best entries ever! Jasper is amazing. I guess doing a scary squid gesture out the ‘bottom’ would be cruel. :-)

pam says:

that is awesome. jasper sounds a lot like my oliver. very sensory-oriented, if that makes sense. (he was never addicted to the binky like his brothers, though. He was/is a thumb-sucker. And a zipper-tweaker. And a fleece hater.

as far as potty training goes, i tried with them in november, right before they turned 3. it was an epic fail. and then, two weeks ago, daycare said, “send them in underpants” and seriously, it was DONE. like, very few accidents.

(and, this is good for you – Oliver has done the best. so maybe jasper will do as well as he did!)

ariana says:

I don’t want to force it on him, believe me I think it’s easier to change diapers LOL.. but the problem is now he’s in the preschool room at daycare, and he’s the only one still in diapers. One would THINK the peer pressure and novelty of being a “big kid” like the others would have some sway.. but nope.

But with Jasper, we don’t have much of a choice.. he’s SO stubborn that we sort of have to leave it up to him anyway!

The “don’t get poop or pee on Buzz or woody” doesn’t work with him, though I knew it worked great for his teacher Chastity when she potty trained her son (at just over 2 years old!)

Jennifer says:

I was just going to chime in as a “ditto to what aimee said” comment. Both my boys potty trained themselves (we did not care one bit, or so they thought) at 2.5 years old in one day. It was a decision they made that they had to arrive at on their own terms. I’m not saying this would work for everyone but my own boys couldn’t care less about a “party” or “dance” or any of that potty-train-in-one-day book stuff, so we gave up on that method. We’re expecting it to go about the same for our 2 year old this summer sometime. He has two big brothers to be like, afterall.

aimee says:

Do not force potty training or you will be in for a world of hurt! He will be ready when he is ready. If you force it, he can start to have fears of the toilet and you could end up with potty training that lasts 6 months. The average boy potty trains at 39 months. That’s 3 1/4 years old! My sin was 33 months. He told us he was not going to wear diapers any more and from that point he has never worn a pull up, never wet the bed and goes to sleep with a cup of water. I watched his best friend get forced in to potty training and it was a disaster.

Hilarious! I can relate as Russell was the same way.. very quirky right down to the cold pillow.
When we potty trained him, he was into Bob the Builder and we had Bob underwear. All I had to say was, “Don’t pee pee or poop on Bob”. Never had an accident! Unreal… gotta love those quirky kids :)

Cole says:

Darn, I’m not sure that would work for us… We are procrastinating Battle Binky, too.