My name is E and my last dummy was 9 days ago.

Back when I was a perfect mother (ie. before E was born), if someone had told me that she’d still have a dummy at almost 3, I’d have been horrified. These were the tools of the lazy parent, stuffed in the gobs of their offspring by those who couldn’t be bothered to breast feed on demand or come up with entertainment on a train journey.

Then I actually had a baby and after 4 sleepless weeks of constant, toe curling, nipple grating agony my mother told me to stop being so stupid and give the sucky baby a dummy. Actually she probably put it a little more kindly than that, I can’t entirely remember, but either way she was right. It helped enormously, and far from interfering with breast feeding, may well have saved it. But what was useful in those first few weeks looked like a bad habit when weeks become months and an all-out addiction when they became years. So with that third birthday looming I took a deep breath and decided it was time to stage an intervention.

I’d love to say at this point that I had some clever, child centric, holistic method to do this. I didn’t . I had £15 and good ole fashioned bribery.

So on the last day of our recent holiday I took E into a toy shop and told her she could choose a toy, but she could only have that toy once she’d gone 7 nights with no dummy, to my surprise E was really keen on this so we added a sticker chart to the basket, headed home and kept our fingers crossed for the first night.

I’d anticipated a battle, but E went to bed determined to earn her sticker. She did wake up in the early hours crying for us to bring her the dummy but when I went in, expecting this to be the point we gave up for the night, I explained to her that she could have her dummy but then she wouldn’t get her sticker and she immediately changed her mind, asked for her bear instead and went straight back to sleep cuddling up and muttering to herself “I want my sticker, I want my sticker”.

7 stickers in a row! (plus a few extras, and some drawing)

This was the pattern for the next couple of nights until she stopped waking up altogether and after 7 nights, and amazingly little fuss, the chart was full and a very very excited E threw her dummies in the bin and collected her toy. Her beloved cuddly Gruffalo now comes everywhere with us.

I’m utterly stunned at how easy it was, dummys had seemed like such an addiction and I had no idea that E had the willpower to break the habit on her first attempt. Was bribery the right way to go? Well I’m sure some people would say no, but she is very proud of herself and, frankly, it worked – so it’ll do. Yeah,  I’m not the perfect mother anymore, but I think I am a good enough mother, which is probably as much as anyone can honestly claim (and I no longer have to get up in the night to grovel under the bed to find lost dummy’s*) so that’s good enough for me.

*well, until Smidge2 arrives…

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