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How to Get Rid of the Pacifier

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Dear Dr. Susan:

I have a 4 year old who I never pressured into giving up her binky. (my first memory is of my mom taking mine away, and I felt, for that to be my first memory, it must have been traumatic). I just assumed that she would grow out of her need for it, and apparently I was wrong. She now thinks she should have it in her mouth 24/7. I want to resolve this as humanly as possible, as she does nothing but scream at the top of her lungs when we try to take it away. How do you suggest we approach this with her…she’s way to old for her binky.

Thank you,


Dear Mary:

It’s understandable that she has formed a relationship with that “comfort” toy. Some kids have the same response to a bear or a blanket. Relax. Don’t worry. She’s got to do it herself, so start talking to her about how grown up she is, and how babies usually give “it” up when they start eating and drinking and dressing and going places like “big people”. Tell her the binky stays in her room. A family rule! Tell her you can’t understand her talking when she uses it, and therefore the “binky” can’t be used at times when she is around her friends or family because she can’t be understood. If she has a lot of them, have a family meeting and plan how each week, she needs to put one in the garbage until only her “favorite” remains. That favorite one stays in her room. Remind her gently by just pointing or saying “Mary put “it” in your room.” Give her lots of encouragement, but be firm, even if she yells. “Yelling” means she will have to go in her room, where the binky “lives.” Just give her time and be kind and gently with your reminders. Her friends will begin to tease her if it goes on any longer, anyway. Teachers don’t allow it either, generally. Perhaps she doesn’t attend preschool, I strongly urge you to get her involved in other activities and a pre-K settings, so she can see what children do and don’t do.

Thanks again,

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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