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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hi, I have a 25 month old daughter. She is very self sufficient

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Hi, I have a 25 month old daughter. She is very self sufficient and well ahead on her developemental milestones, esp her language. She currently has a vocabulary of about 500 words and is already talking in 12 word sentences. 4 days ago we took away her soother. Since then she has become hysterical every night when she wants it. She has also stopped sleeping during the day and only falls asleep at night due to exhaustion.The amount of temper tantrums during the day has also increased dramaticaly. Tonight she became extremely upset, crying and screaming for almost 40 minutes. She eventually fell asleep while sitting and crying. I am really worried that I am scarring her for life. How do I know whether to give it back to her or to just try and stick it out and if I give it back, wont it teach her that she will get her way if she just cries long enough.

I am really worried as her whole personality seems to have changed. Please could someone give me advice.

Regards G

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


For a child, dependency on a soother is a very common issue. They get used to calming themselves this way and at times, getting them to stop using a soother can be a challenge.


Although your child using a soother is a very normal behavior for a child her age, eventually getting them to stop using it and taking it away can cause a number of behavioral responses such as you are experiencing right now. Children are very limited in how they can express themselves and how your daughter is acting right now is the way she understands to express her frustration at not having her soother.


Taking away the soother should be done gradually. You are seeing the response your daughter is having because the soother was abruptly taken. Although this seems the easiest way to handle it, children need to learn to live without a soother but do not understand how to "replace" their need for it. She needs to understand that she can substitute other things for her soother and to do this, she needs to have it happen over time.


When you wean her from the soother, do it during the day at first. Gradually shorten the time she has it. As you take it from her, substitute other activities not only to distract her but to show her she can more easily communicate with you without the soother and that lots of fun can ensue instead. Buy a special DVD to watch, go outside and play in a favorite playground, get some ice cream, create a special tea time or mommy and daughter time, anything that will show her she can have fun without the soother.


When you start working with your daughter, make sure others in her life are also willing to work on this issue with you. Your daughter should not get mixed messages, with one parent taking it away and another giving it to her whenever she wants it. Also include caregivers, other relatives that may spend time with her, and any teachers she may have.


With time your daughter will stop needing her soother. I always say the kids are not going to go to college with the soother (bottle, blanket, whatever) so eventually they will give it up. It just takes patience and a lot of love.


I hope this helped you,


Edited by Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC on 12/20/2010 at 8:38 PM EST
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much for your response. She had been without it during the day for a while now and she used to be able to sleep without it during the day as well. At her school they have not been giving it to her at all.

If I give it back to her at night now only, would that not lead to manipulative behaviour later?She is a very clever little girl and I do not want to teach her that she can get whatever she wants if she only screams long enough, but I am worried about her severe reaction at the moment. It breaks my heart to see my little girl cry herself to sleep, but I dont want to do the wrong thing by not giving it back.

I think if you limit her time with it, maybe only to get herself to sleep, she will be ok. She will eventually understand that she can do without it, it will just take time.


She does sound like a very smart girl and you are right, it will be hard to find a balance between when to say no and when to let her have it. But the temper tantrums right now are about her not understanding why she doesn't have the soother at all.


Do not give the soother back when she is acting out. Explain to her she can have it when she behaves and to fall asleep. Tell her you want her to work with you to do without it. She may not completely understand, but she may enjoy the opportunity to work on something with mommy together. See if you both can find ways to substitute the soother. Gradually, she will learn to do without it.


My best to you and your daughter,




TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Have a great day.


You are very welcome! Your daughter is blessed to have you.



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