The Power Of Choice

Imagine a day in which you had no say in what you did. Someone else decided when you got out of bed, what clothes you would wear, and what you ate for breakfast. Someone else dictated when you played, what you played with, and for how long. Someone else chose where you went that day, when you had your meals, and when you slept. Someone else instructed you on how to behave, what things you could and could not touch, and what you watched on TV.

P1210167Now imagine how you’d feel at the end of such a day. After being bossed around and having all your decisions made for you, wouldn’t you want to flex your muscles and have a say?

At my children’s preschool, we talk a lot about how important it is to allow children to make choices. It’s important for many reasons. First of all, a child can’t learn how to make decisions on their own if they’ve never been allowed to do it before. Secondly, presenting children with choices and encouraging them to weigh their options is a powerful tool when it comes to self discipline, self esteem, and restraint, all of which are valuable lessons when it comes to such issues as drugs, alcohol and sex. In other words, letting your toddler choose her own clothes can help equip her to make the right choices when peer pressure kicks in years later.
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Gently Weaning From The Pacifier

Last month, my two-year-old daughter had an MRI. She has an eye condition called strabismus, for now she uses the daily disposable lenses, but in the future she will have to undergo surgery to correct the problem. Prior to surgery, she needed the MRI to rule out any neurological causes behind the eye condition, and because she is only two, the procedure required sedation.

In my bag, along with a change of clothes and her special blanket, I also brought her pacifier. She takes it to sleep with, and it’s an instant soother for her when she is upset, so I figured I should have it in case the procedure was frightening.

She did wonderfully, until it was time to take her back for the sedation part. Nurses and doctors bustled about, and there was a lot of equipment and flashing lights and beeping, and she started to look a little nervous, so I gave her the pacifier.

The nurse caring for her made a comment about it and said she could tell from looking at her that she is a pacifier child. “My son took a pacifier and his teeth looked like hers,” she said.

The comment made me think. Is there something wrong with my child’s teeth? They look fine to me. Should I have weaned her from these pacifiers by now? She only takes it at naptime and bedtime, it’s not like it’s in her mouth all day long. We made that decision some time ago. She talks well too, so I hadn’t seriously considered weaning her from the pacifier until now.

Part of the reason for that is because I very strongly believe that you shouldn’t take away a child’s comfort object just because the experts say “it’s time.” How is it beneficial to abruptly remove a child’s bottle because they have turned one, or take away a school age child’s teddy bear because “only babies sleep with stuffed animals?” In my house, transitions are usually done a little later than recommended, but they are done slowly and gently, so the effects are long lasting.

My daughter went down for her nap today as usual, with her pacifier in her mouth. Still though I’m wondering if it’s time to start thinking about the best way to wean her from her pacifier use, and I could use some advice for the gentlest way to do so.

Did your child use a pacifier? How did you wean them from it and at what age?

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