I have been focusing on how she should try to love her new pals, but not sure if this is the right thing to do. Do you think she will find/pick an alternative? Surely she must, right? Or will she just suddenly not have a little friend anymore? I’m not really into the idea of telling some lie/story about mousity-mouse heaven. What can I do??? – The Mouse That Got Away
We really do feel your pain. Weaning your child from something she’s become attached to can be brutal. It’s not just the baby who loses a dependency; it’s the whole family. So you’re all going to need to work through this loss. And that’s really what it is. You can let your daughter know that you understand how hard it is to lose something. Your sympathetic and rational explanation may not stop her from crying, but it is respectful of what she going through, and that matters a lot. No need to pretend it’s “not so bad.” And for this age, distraction may be a lot more effective than busting out the idea of mouse heaven, an abstract idea that may confuse her.
A replacement may be a good idea, though it will probably take some trial and error as well as some sensitivity. If you’re too quick to shove a substitute towards the bereaved, you risk making children feel worse/offended/outraged/angry. If you do notice a new object “relationship” developing, you may want to buy a few duplicates to use as back-ups in case of another loss, but the back-up plan doesn’t always work. It helps if you keep multiple matching “loveys” – as Dr. T. Berry Brazelton likes to call ’em – in rotation. This way, one doesn’t take priority over the others, and they all get to be soaked in the comforting guck of drool and snot. There is also a somewhat comi-tragic listserv designed to help parents in your situation track down replicas of lost transitional objects. You never know, there may be another Mousity Mouse out there on eBay just looking for a loving home.
It’s possible that your daughter will never find another fuzzy friend she loves as much as Mousity Mouse. But even then, she’ll be just fine. She’ll figure out another way to get herself to sleep, and trite though it may sound, she may actually grow from the experience. Learning that you can lose something like Mousity Mouse and the world doesn’t end can be incredibly reassuring. Raising kids involves inevitable losses and challenges. What’s amazing is to see how we are actually able to get through them and move on with a new frame of reference. Of course, this doesn’t make the meantime any less painful. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. We’d add, though it’s probably obvious, that keeping other stressful stuff to a minimum at this time is an excellent idea. And remember that despite the dark tunnel you may see ahead, you’ll both sleep again, with or without animal aid.
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