Friday, 5 April 2013

A Rite Of Passage

Rascal and Scallywag are thumb-suckers. They both started when they were about 4 months old and have used it as a way to help get themselves to sleep ever since. I'll admit that its not something that I am particularly happy about, but I have accepted it and have made a conscious decision not to turn into one of those parents who is constantly nagging their child about their thumb.

Rascal is now four and a half. She will start school in November. Although she does not tend to suck her thumb in public (it is very much something that she does in the evening when she is tired), I'd hate for thumb-sucking to turn into a source of teasing for her at school and for some time I have been putting quite a lot of thought into how to help her to stop.

Then a few of months ago I read about how my friend Deb's daughter had a special visit from Santa Claus at Christmas. Her daughter gave her dummy to Santa and he, in turn, gave her a special doll... It got me thinking! I loved the idea of not punishing the child and completely taking away their comfort (lets face it, the children of Christchurch have needed comfort more than most over the last couple of years!), but instead just replacing it with something else. Gentle but yet effective.

For Rascal, thumb sucking is very closely associated with her piglet comforter. I reasoned that if we could get rid of piglet, then perhaps the thumb-sucking would disappear too (or at least be minimised)!

Preschool Piglet; Piglet and Winnie the Pooh
So I sat down and had a wee chat with Rascal. I asked her if she would like a really special doll, but I made it clear that the doll would come at a price. We would trade the doll for Piglet; Preschool Piglet and Winnie the Pooh (her three comforters). I also told her that the doll was not for little girls who suck their thumbs.

Rascal had a think about it and told me that she would like the new doll and accepted the conditions.

All that was a couple of months ago, and while the doll was being specially made for Rascal by Dee, we had a special visit from preschool. Lightening is a special teddy bear who is given to children to take home for the night as a reward for good behaviour. Rascal was super super proud to have Lightening home for a visit and as Mr Tartankiwi tucked her in to sleep that night she whispered to him that she was going to cuddle Lightening instead of sucking her thumb.
Lightening and Pooh
Our hearts swelled with pride and we realised that maybe, just maybe, our tactic was going to pay off!

Rascal's new doll arrived this week. She is a complete hit! Although Rascal has admitted to sucking her thumb "just a little bit" at night, I have not once seen her sucking her thumb during the day! She is really really proud of her achievement and I truly believe that she is doing her best to stop sucking her thumb.

It seems to me that stopping thumb-sucking is a Rite of Passage that Rascal is going through. I think it deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated. It is a huge milestone for and it feels like we have marked her achievement in a respectful, fun and loving way.

Thank you Deb for inspiring me to be a better parent and thanks again Dee for making such a beautiful new friend for my daughter.

I'm joining in with Miriam and Becoming the Mama You want to Be.

Create Hope Inspire


  1. lovely juliet, absolutely lovely. so respectful of your child, yet encouraging her to move forward (i unbelievably sucked my thumb until i was 11 years old and started comprehensive school. one scathing comment was all it took me to stop and about time too!!!)
    i like your way better, and the doll is a beauty, that hair!, i can see why she is so highly motivated x

  2. that is really special and I love how she is so proud of HER achievement xx

  3. Exciting - Well done big girl and family! such a lovely approach x

  4. I sucked my thumb until I was about 8! I can't remember what made me stop but a new doll sure would have!
    Go Rascal!

  5. This is such an inspiring story! You deserve a treat too, for such creative and loving parenting skills!


  6. Aw that is such a great way of handling it. I used to suck my fingers, as a child, and bite my nails. My Mum used this foul tasting stuff to help me stop biting my nails. It didn't work but it did stop me sucking my fingers!

  7. Oh, aren't Dee's dolls just amazing?! What a great idea. Well done and congratulations to Rascal!


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