At what point does a teacher cross the line from trying to be helpful to interfering with parenting decisions?
That’s the dilemma one mum faced this week when she sent a clear message by her child’s kindergarten teacher that her daughter’s habit needed to change.
Listen: Dear parents, this is everything teachers want you to know. (Post continues…)
“I’d rather she didn’t have it and we are planning on ‘sending it to Santa’, or something along those lines, but it doesn’t overly worry me.
“She’s content with it and not doing any harm.”
But as the mum discovered, not everybody agrees that her daughter’s dummy use was acceptable.
She shared that while dropping her daughter off at the pre-kinder breakfast club, the dummy slipped from her pocket and feel to the ground, where one of the people supervising handed it back to her and she headed off thinking nothing more of it.
However, when she returned to pick her daughter up, she was greeted in a way that left her “slightly in shock”.
“I then arrived to pick daughter up from her afterschool club and the lady from the club took me to one side to say that she’d been asked to hand me a leaflet because daughter ‘has been seen to have her dummy in at breakfast club and said told the teacher she has it a lot at home’.”
She said the teacher had spoken to her daughter about the dummy, as she handed her the ‘Drop The Dummy’ pamphlet.
"I was slightly taken aback and said she doesn't have the dummy at breakfast club and, slightly in shock, took the leaflet off her and left with my daughter."
"I asked daughter about this and she clearly said 'Mrs said that I have to give my dummy to Santa and that I'm not allowed it any more'."
"I asked her how that made her feel to which she replied 'sad because it helps me get to sleep'."
The mum clarified that she knew her daughter "could do without" the dummy, but felt the way the school handled the matter was intrusive.
"Am I being unreasonable to think that the teacher has no right to tell my four-year-old that she's not allowed her dummy or speak to her about it before speaking to me or my husband first?"
"If they wanted to hand me the leaflet or contact me first then fine, but not challenge my daughter about it."
Some fellow parents on the site offered words of support, telling the mum the school was "totally overstepping the mark" and had handled it "pretty badly". Others disagreed, suggesting that maybe a message from the school will help reinforce the message to her daughter or give her the push she needs to give it up.
"I think they're only trying to help. She could get teased for having a dummy at four. I too would accept the support," offered one user.
As many parents of kindergarten-aged kids or older will know, the dummy and when to drop it can be a contentious issue.
Mum-of-two Sheli Gold wrote of her struggle with her daughter's dummy habit in her piece for Mamamia last year. Gold found that when her three-year-old daughter told her she was ready to give up her dummy, she dismissed it and went into denial, before finally accepting her daughter was growing up.
"I sobbed because for the first time I truly understood when mothers say: they grow up so quickly," she wrote.
"It was the first time I felt with all my being what it meant to see your baby grow up and to pang for what is no longer.
"I had a flash of the impermanence of your childhood and it filled me with nostalgia and longing."
Meanwhile, mum Marina Kalcina, told Mamamia she didn't care social media users were bothered by her then-20-month-old daughter using a dummy.
"I don’t care if a baby ‘should’ be weaned off the dummy by 18 months," she shared. "I don’t care if it’s another ‘habit’ I’ll have to ‘break’ or that I’m creating ‘more work’ for myself in the ‘long run’.
"I don’t care what assumptions people make about your mood. I don’t care that there are kids out there who never used a dummy to begin with, or that there are five-year-olds still being pacified by plastic."
Where do you stand? Is there a particular age children should ditch the dummy?