Helping Our Kiddos Remove "Crutches"

in Home Edders4 months ago

A couple of weeks ago, my wife decided we needed to wean little man off of his pacifier (aka binkey or "paci"). What a week it was! We were still adjusting to daylight savings, the political landscape was changing (good or bad, depending on who you ask), and we had a grumpy two year in the house.

Isn't it funny that parents introduce "routines" into their children's' lives for their benefit (primarily sleep), only to later take away those very same things because they could create long-term mental and physical health concerns? Not really that funny.


Source - Pixabay

What is a Crutch?

There are a few definitions of the word "crutch," but I will be focusing on the following in this post:

crutch (noun) - a source or means of support or assistance that is relied on heavily or excessively Source - Merriam Webster

A crutch is something (or perhaps someone) that is used to help deal with problems.

Parents Introduce Crutches

As I referenced earlier, parents are the people who create early routines for children (rigid or flexible, depending on the parents). As a result, parents not only provide the "crutch" but often encourage their child to use the crutch.

Parents often train little children to use a pacifier, childhood blanket, and/or a favorite animal as a sleep aid. Guilty! And at times, these "aids" are introduced (consciously or not) with selfish motivations. I want my child to sleep well, because I selfishly want to sleep well.

Please hear me out. I definitely see the benefit of family routines and family traditions. My family has many of our own. But there is an interesting transition that often takes place when parents realize that an aid has turned into a crutch. We have to backtrack away from something that we once leaned in to.

Sometimes a child becomes so attached to a particular item that he or she can not perform normal life activities without that item. Sometimes the crutch can create long term mental and/or physical health issues.

Other Examples

Not only are children introduced to sleep aids as babies, they may also progress through a variety of sleep aids as they grow older.

Most 5 year olds do not use a paci/binkey any longer, but they may still have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. What about white noise or playing music at night? What night lights and fans?

I do not want to be overly critical of any of the above (because again I am guilty!), but I struggle when I notice that these aids crutches are "relied on heavily or excessively."

And sleep is not the only area of life where crutches might pop up. With the advancement of technology, entertainment is at our fingertips - everyone's fingers, including our children. I need to be careful not to absolve my parenting rights to an "electronic baby sitter." Devices can be a crutch for both parents and children. We are both susceptible to digital addiction. Becoming a "device user" is easier (and more social acceptable than becoming a drug user. As an adult, I hope I am never accused of being a "digital" dealer - one who has actively and intentionally spreading this digital drug.

Let's jump a few more years into the future. Now our 5 to 10 year olds are 13 to 18. Add puberty, hormones, and a digital addiction and we have a dangerous cocktail.

At this stage of childhood, devices are not only viewed as entertainment centers, but also as social connection centers. But there is an interesting twist that has been building as your child has been growing older. Big tech is very invested in your child's addiction. They are financially invested and ready to benefit from every "digital" crutch that each member of your family leans on.

Let It Go

I often catch myself in my own hypocrisy:

Me to my kiddos: "Get off your device." (while I am scrolling through social media)

I admittedly have stronger restrictions on my children than for myself. I know that I am the adult and they are the children, but it does not mean that I am immune from the addiction.

I need to be a role model, a mentor, an example of someone who finds the right balance. They need to see that I am not too dependent on any "aid" of any kind - devices, alcohol, drugs, etc.

I must be willing to let go for a moment, in the moment, so that my kiddos can see that there is more to life then the crutches that we claim to need.

Taking This To The Next Level

My wife and I have talked about some general guidelines that we want to implement. If you have any other suggestions, lets continue the conversation in the comments below.

  1. No devices (aka distractions) at the dinner table.
  2. All devices are put away at a certain time at night as we prepare for bed (this might be a tough one for mom and dad).
  3. Limited device use throughout the school/work day. We realize that some use is required for some of our children's students and definitely required as I work from home.
  4. There may be times throughout day where recreational use can be enjoyed, but we expect and encourage other types of recreation to take precedent. I find this more challenging to enforce as we all struggle with less time outside due to colder weather.
  5. Find ways to gather as a family that does not involve devices - family games, crafts, etc.

Final Thoughts

It is foolish of me to think that my children will not struggle with teenage and adult "crutches" in the future. As a parent I need to be mindful of each child's tendencies and potential addictions. If my wife and I work with our children to identify and overcome their crutches today and promote open communication (judgement free communication), then I hope my children will be willing to approach us with their struggles in the future as well. No guarantee that things will work out as I hope, but I can guarantee that my kiddos will hide everything from me if I don't try now.

I want my kiddos to know that I love them no matter what they are working through in life, and that I am ready and willing to help them overcome every obstacle.

These are the steps I need to take:

  • Constantly Love
  • Carefully Identify
  • Faithfully Stand Beside
  • Eventually Overcome
  • Celebrate Victories
  • Show Grace Throughout the Entire Process

I want to hear from you..

  1. Are there any aids or routines that you introduced to your child that you later regretted?
  2. Are there any patterns or behaviors that your children see in your life that they mimic?

Thanks for stopping by!



Ah we did these things pretty early on with our son, at about 2 years old we took them away. He loved having a pacifier that had the animals attached to them, a frog one to be specific! We just went through a week though where we said that's it and took it away. The night time was a bigger struggle but we wittled the number of them down, kept them of course hidden in case there was crazy pushback, but eventually once we started taking them away after he fell asleep and didn't give him them back, it was over so we were really glad. The next thing we did in an equally easy time was potty training. One weekend we said enough pooping in a diaper and thankfully he did excellent, peed and pooped in the toilet in the same day!

I totally get it though, a lot of times it's more about the parents wanting to deal with it then the kids lol we weren't ready for our sleep to worsen so we pushed it off but once we finally said screw it, it ended up being totally fine and we lost minimal sleep compared to normal lol.

One of the things that our son has picked up is situational swearing, which is hilarious and awesome in some regards, but a little challenging in others. We don't correct him or tell him not to say the things so it doesn't draw more attention to it than it needs to be but we try to be more cognizant of what we are saying and when. The other day we were cleaning and I dropped something and it broke and in the exact same tone of voice as my wife he goes "ohhhh shit, we have to clean that up" it was unbelievably funny but we couldn't blame him! He hears us say it and he understands why and when we say it so he repeats it lol Thankfully outside of that, he's been remarkably great with not picking up our bad habits like our phones. He doesn't have one of course, he has one of our old ones that barely turns on but he gets bored of it and goes back to building things so we want to try and keep that going as long as possible!
If I could say one thing that we don't love that he does is still drinks almond milk for the most of his liquid intake. We water it down (delicious sounding, huh?) but we would love to stop buying the stuff and reduce the sugar intake he gets from non-fruit things but in the larger scheme, we can't really complain all that much!

@cmplxty - Thanks for the engaging comment.

I am glad to hear that your son transitioned well away from his pacifier. Our little man has been doing well too.

Our next transition will be potty training. I hope that it goes as smooth as your experience.

Your story is a great example of how much children mimic their parents. They are prone to say what we say and do what we do.

Again thanks for stopping by and sharing.


Yeah one of the things we realized is they will give you signals letting you know that they are ready to do something. The important part is recognizing those signals, we weren't great at recognizing them for a little bit lol.

Good luck on the potty training! We hunkered down for a weekend, got some treats of various kinds to reward him and made sure that we showed him how excited we were when he successfully did something like that. It wasn't too bad but he got scared pooping the first time. One thing we made sure to do is not let him have a diaper on when it could be prevented. We just talked to him, made sure he understood that when he needs to pee he needs to tell us, we said it but would also bring him to the bathroom every 45 minutes or so and he finally peed so that was one hurdle.

Hopefully when you undertake the potty training you'll share how it went!

That is a great point. Our kiddos are giving us signals. We have to make sure we are not so busy that we miss the signals.

Not sure if we will try to get through the holidays first, but we will definitely be thinking about potty training soon. I will try my best to get a good post written once we go through the process.

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