Tel/Fax: 080-3207-6191

Karen D. Bopp PhD S-LP(C).

Dr. Karen Bopp is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and a Post Doctoral Fellow in Special Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She has worked with children for over 16 years and is also the mother of preschool twin girls.
Her areas of expertise, (when she is not chasing after her twins), include early intervention for children with autism, speech and language development in the preschool years, positive behavior support, augmentative and alternative communication, and training for families and professionals.

All Articles
Biting 101
Breastfeading: Mothers Mik
Child Support Services
Child’s Play
Cooking With Kids
F.Prac: Acne
F.Prac: Antibiotics
F.Prac: Breast Cancer Awareness
F.Prac: Flu Vaccine
F.Prac: Letter to the Expert
F.Prec: Asthma
Get Reading
Jet Lag
Kindergarten Entry
Making New Friends
Molluscum Contagiosum
Mother Knows Best: It’s My Baby
Music Therapy
Paperwork Procedures
Positive Guidance (part 3)
Positive Guidance (part 2)
Relo: Activities for teens
Relo: Did you know (p1)
Relo: Did you know (p1)
Relo: Ward Offices
Saving Breastfeeding
Sleep in Babies
Soothers (p1)
Soothers (p2)
Speech: Baby Signs
Speech: Bilingual Kids (p1)
Speech: Bilingual Kids (p2)
Speech: Creative Stupidity
Speech: Language Development
Speech: Speech & Language
Speech:...not "talking" yet?
Stanger Danger
Stress in children
Tooth Decay

In the last issue of Tokyo Families I discussed the pros and cons of using a pacifier and its connection with speech and language development. In this issue, I will tackle a common question:
“How do I break the pacifier habit?”

As I mentioned in the previous issue, this topic is close to my heart. My twins were pretty much “glued” to their “Wee-ahs” (a name they made up for them) and we couldn’t take one step out the door without at least 6 jammed into my pockets! I knew we needed to break this habit, and the sooner the better. But, I didn’t want to go “cold-turkey” for two reasons. One, my sanity - I didn’t think I was strong enough to stick to it; and two, I knew from my experience in child development that they needed an explanation. So, I redefined this challenge as an opportunity to develop their language, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

In my work with children, I often use what are called Social Stories™.* Social Stories™ were first developed in 1991 by Carol Gray in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for children with autism, but are now used with children of all developmental levels. The basic idea behind a Social Story™ is to create an individual story for a child that talks about what she does well, and introduces new skills or concepts (e.g., not needing a pacifier) so that s/he can better understand what is expected. Therefore, instead of just telling my girls that they were “big now” and didn’t need their Wee-ahs anymore, I put together a book about how they were growing up and, just to make it fun, introduced them to the “Wee-ah Fairy.”

My story was most definitely not a true Social Story™, but by using this basic idea, it allowed me to slowly introduce giving up their Wee-ahs, so that when they did, it was their decision and I wasn’t the bad-guy. (That part I liked!) The story also introduced them to things they could do or ask for instead of using a Wee-ah, such as hugging a special toy at bedtime or asking Mommy or Daddy for a big hug and kiss to make them feel better. In general, it focused on the positive – how much they loved their Wee-ahs when they were babies, how they were getting big now, what they could do instead of using a Wee-ah, how they could “send their Wee-ahs home,” and how it was special to not need a Wee-ah anymore.

The entire story is available on the TF website, but the basic plot was that their Wee-ahs had a Mommy and Daddy too and wanted to go home and when the girls were ready, they could leave their Wee-ahs on their windowsill at night and then the

Wee-ah Fairy would come and take their Wee-ahs home, and yes…she would leave them a present!

I created the book’s pages on my computer and used an i-Color Clear book I purchased at a ¥100 Store when I was in Tokyo to put it together. Each sentence in the story was a page and I used digital pictures of the girls and clip-art to illustrate it.

The first time we read the book before bed, the girls decided that they wanted to leave their Wee-ahs on the windowsill. I was astonished; it was a miracle to me! But alas, this “miracle” was short-lived and I was called back into their room minutes later to retrieve the Wee-ahs. So we kept reading the book night after night, we talked about it during the day, discussed what the Wee-ah Fairy might bring, and thought of other things they could do instead of asking for a Wee-ah. Then one night, weeeeeks later, it happened; they decided to leave their Wee-ahs out and the minute they were asleep my husband and I promptly placed “presents” in their place. We then searched the entire house for all Wee-ahs and removed them completely from our home and cars. The girls awoke the next morning excited about their presents, but of course, immediately asked/whined/cried for their Wee-ahs back. We stood our ground; after all, it was the Wee-ah Fairy that had taken them away, not us. We also referred back to their book so they could remember to ask for a hug or play with a special toy instead.

To this day, the Wee-ah Fairy book is popular bedtime reading. They love being the “stars” of the story and talk about how much they are growing.

Now, this is only one suggestion on how to “Break the Pacifier Habit.” But, it also provides some ideas of how to introduce new skills, concepts, or upcoming life changes to children. For example, one can easily create a story about moving, what to do when traveling on an airplane, or how to share toys with friends. The topics are endless, and by sharing with our children these positive visual stories, we are empowering them with the skills they need to succeed.

See the Social Stories Website for more information: