By totally removing something from our lives, we learn to live without it.
This is a very simple theory and can be applied to many things that we come up against with our children (and as adults too to some extent).
If I am seeing a family where the dummy is causing problems with a baby’s sleeping or a toddler’s behaviour and sleeping, I ask the family to put all of their dummies onto my Dummy Chain and I take them away with me. Although it seems daunting (and there may be the temptation to go out and buy more), most families give me their dummies. The child quickly learns to live without it by finding different ways of coping with situations where they would normally turn to the dummy for comfort (as do the parents).
The same is true when toddlers use comforters (muslins, bunnies, socks, labels, old pyjamas, mummy’s hair – yes, I’ve seen them all!) as their “crutch” in situations where they feel uncomfortable or lack confidence and also to help them sleep. Again, if you take the comforter away, they find different ways of dealing with these situations, often gaining more confidence and learning new skills. Sometimes it is best to remove the comforter from part of their life first, during the daytime for example, and then remove it completely once they are used having it less. When it is gone, they will cope without it! And so will you!
You can also use the “when it’s gone it’s gone” theory with food and drinks. I often see toddlers who are obsessed with milk. When I suggest removing milk from their diets, the parents ask how they will survive as they don’t eat much food and they’ll be hungry. Take the milk away and the child will eat. (Drinking too much milk can leave a child with a diet that isn’t balanced and they can end up deficient in the vitamins and minerals that aren’t present in milk).
And then there’s the child who will only drink milk from a baby bottle (aged 5). Simple! Throw away the baby bottles. If the child really wants milk, they will drink it from a cup. At 5 years old, they should have a balanced diet and they don’t actually need to drink milk.
If a child will only drink squash – don’t buy squash and they will soon drink water. Yes, for the first week or so, they may keep asking for squash, but in time they will accept that water has replaced squash at home.
If their diet is restricted to only white food – buy everything but white food and they will find something they like and before you know it they will eat a massive variety of food. (Please get in touch if your child’s diet is very restricted and I will offer you advice on doing this without starving them.)
So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, think about whether removing one small thing from your life will help you get out of the rut. If it will, go for it! Give it a few days and see what happens…