Not too long after Princess Pea was born she became an addict. I was her dealer and enabler. I introduced her to her addiction. The moment I took that shiny silicone pacifier and stuck it in her mouth to soothe her, she was hooked. It took her a while to get the hang of keeping it in her mouth but once she got the hang of it they were inseparable. Many of her pictures her first year of life were of her with her pacifier.
When Princess Pea began talking, I asked her what her pacifier was called (we had always called it a pacifier or a plug, no baby talk). She told me it was a Bop. After that it was christened Bop.
Not long after that I decided to only giver her Bop when she was crying or sleeping. After that was established it went to never leaving the house, Bop stayed at home. After that we got her just on nap and bedtime. It was a necessary crutch.
Princess Pea had never been a good sleeper. We had fought the sleep battle with her, her entire life. We had just gotten to the point where she was putting herself to sleep in her own bed and sleeping through the night. Once this happened at 20 months old, I was terrified to change anything, but as she got older, I knew that we had to do it.
I knew that with the upcoming move this July, life would be easier if we didn’t have to deal with the Bop anymore. I knew that dentists recommend no more pacifiers after 2 years old. I know that it’s easier to do it when they’re younger than waiting too long. I also knew that it was going to ruin my sleep.
After a few nights of her using her Bop to stay up later (throwing it out of her room and then crying that it’s gone) we decided it was time. Superman and I had a long talk about how we were going to do it. We know our child and felt like cold turkey was the only way that would make sense to her, but it would be too hard. After spending hours on Pinterest, I found this mom who broke her son of it in a relatively short time (cold turkey) with this fun idea. He son was older than Princess Pea, but she’s a smart cookie. I told Superman about it and we executed Operation Bop-free the next morning.
We picked Monday night as the day we would be done with Bop. It was Friday morning and I brought the topic up to Pea. “Do you want a fun toy? What do you think if Mommy and Daddy take you to Target or Wal-Mart and you pick out any toy you want?” She liked that idea. “You can even pay for it yourself. If you give the check-out lady all your bops, then she’ll give you the toy.” I knew this would work for Pea, she loves going to Target and Wal-Mart (she tells me she wants to go when I ask her what she wants to do that day). She also is obsessed with money and buying stuff. She will yell “BUY IT, MOMMY” when she finds something at the store she wants (usually sushi).
That afternoon we went to Target and spent at least 45 minutes looking at toys. I told her to think hard which one she wanted to buy. I kept a mental list of all the ones she really liked. For the next few days we talked a lot about using the bops to buy one of the toys she liked. She seemed really excited about the idea except when it was brought up at naptime or bedtime.
Monday evening we had her take all her bops out of the freezer (yes, she likes them cold) and put them in her little blue shopping bag. We wandered Target’s toy department for less than 20 minutes (things go faster with Daddy). She ultimately picked the pink shopping cart with play food. She was so excited she pushed the cart all the way to the check out. She handed the lady her bops and then took off with her cart. Superman swiped his card then caught up with us later.
Later that night, as predicted, bedtime was awful. I told her that she used her bops to buy her cart. She was so upset. She cried and cried and we started our sleep training process all over. She did sleep through the night.
After three nights and naps of being reminded that all the bops are at Target, she accepted it. She loved her cart and had bonded with it. The three nights and naps that she did struggle with, she did understand that her bops were gone. I think what helped was Superman adding the idea that Target is going to use her bops for other babies in need (we actually have them put away with the baby stuff).
Here’s the quick step by step summary
1) We talked to Princess Pea for a few days about what was going to happen with her bops
2) We went to the store and her be the one to “buy” her toy with her bops (she gave them to the lady) (this might have worked better if she had given them to her one by one instead of in one big lump).
3) We stuck with it and did not give in. She cried, but we talked about what had happened and reminded her.
We also gave her a lot of pep talks about how she could do it and that she was so big and awesome.
Whatever method you end up using, I recommend picking the one that fits your child. If your child doesn’t care about buying stuff and toys like Pea, then this probably won’t work for you. There’s lots of good ones out there (I read them all on Pinterest). Just be consistent and stick with your plan.
I am happy to report that it’s been a week since we did this. She doesn’t even mention Bop anymore. She sleeps through the night and goes to bed with the same ease she did with the bop. It was three days of misery for ultimate independence. We also noticed that she has become more confident in other things that she was previously too afraid to do (like go down the water slide at the pool).
What methods did you use to break your child (or yourself) of an addictive habit?