The Parent In The Face Of Your Baby’s Cry
- It is natural for a parent to experience a rise in anxiety at the sound of their child’s cry.
- It is natural for a mother to experience more anxiety than dad at the sound of the child’s cry.
- It is natural to respond to your child.
The Crying Face Of Your Baby
- It is natural for babies and children to cry.
- Crying is a healthy response to struggle, frustration, loss and change.
- What do we want to teach our children about healthy and normal human sensations, feelings and emotions?
- When are these lessons OK for the child to learn?
- How will we remain responsive as we support them in their learning?
The cry is normal and so is our parental response. It is biological and in the beginning as we repeatedly respond to the cries we are creating a relationship of trust and security.
I do not like to call what I do sleep training, unless we are talking about the reality that it is the child who trains the parent. At some point the parent must allow the child to have the natural response to learning something new, something unfamiliar and something that inspires the tears of struggle.
My job is to:
- Un-train parents and offer them an alternative to their normal reactions.
- Alternatives that support parental responsiveness and quell the natural re-activeness to the cry.
- Alternatives that address anxiety and help parents reduce their own anxiety so that the parent can facilitate the child in their own emotional regulation.
The child is learning this long process of self regulation (through the 3rd year). They are learning how to do it both on their own AND with our help.
We meet our child’s authentic needs for:
- Love and affection
Parent Reinforced Needs
These are generally what we are doing to prevent crying.
- Nursing, rocking, bouncing the baby all the way to sleep after 5-6 months.
- Nursing all the way to sleep and feeding more than twice in the night after 5-6 months.
- Driving, holding and facilitating naps after 6-8 months.
After we have met all of the authentic needs of the child; after we are sure the child is not in pain, not hungry, and sleep needs to happen, what then?
The First Best Thing..
If we are doing everything in our power to keep our baby from crying which has us up all night disrupting our own sleep and affecting our own well being, could that send a subtle and clear message that being upset is not OK?
If the child is a toddler or older, could it send a subtle yet clear message that when we (the parent) don’t need to take care around the basic need of sleep?
The first best thing every parent can do to help their child with the cry is to emotionally regulate themselves to provide a safe, calming influence!