Q: My child is 2 years old and sucks a pacifier. She usually keeps it in the car or in the house, but sometimes we forget. Many times when people (we don’t even know!) see her with a pacifier they feel compelled to scold my daughter (teasingly) and pretend to try and take the pacifier from her. What should I do in situations like this?
A: I’m not sure why pacifiers and thumb sucking bring out such passion in strangers, but they do. It would seem like their passion could be better channeled elsewhere!
You have every right to feel frustrated with these strangers’ comments and actions, but you need to accept that you are not going to change their passion, nor will it benefit anyone to be rude. (Okay, if your child’s safety is in question, then don’t concern yourself with what is polite.)
I’d be willing to bet that these scolding adults have no clue that they could be upsetting you and your child. Nor have they realized they are trying to take something out of the mouth of a child they don’t even know! Calling their attention to this by calmly saying, “Please stop.” might just do the trick. If it doesn’t squelch the unsolicited input, then you may need to firmly say, “I’m her mother and I’ll take care of policing the pacifier.”
Limiting where and when a pacifier may be enjoyed is a good idea (hard to do that with a thumb!), but being prepared to thwart the passions of the self designated pacifier police in the grocery store may give you confidence to protect your child’s personal space.