Do you believe in crying it out? The Fear of Tears
By: Tia Slightham
written for Pink and Blue Baby Magazine
The biggest and baddest question in all things babies! To sleep train or not to? To let them cry or not? The internal power struggle of emotions that goes on inside regarding this issue of sleep training is one of the hardest things new moms go through. You are only trying to the what’s best for you baby and for some reason the ‘fear of tears’ gets in the way! You’re not alone and each and every time I am coaching a client they all come to me with the same exact concern, “is it really okay to let my baby cry?” The answer to this question is yes! Lets get down to basics for a minute and I want to reference an analogy that Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions uses. She says if you child wanted to play with matches, would you let them? I’m fairly certain that 100% of you would say NO! I am also fairly certain that your answer would remain NO, even if your child was throwing the world’s largest tantrum and even if this tantrum went on for hours. There is no way even with tears that you would change your mind and let your child’s safety be put at risk. So now, back to sleeping. Are the tears any different at night then the day? Again, the answer is NO! Tears are tears are tears. So to get over our fear of ‘nighttime’ tears I am going to give you some pointers and tips on how to put your emotional turmoil around this subject at ease and help you create a more positive outlook on the amazing gift of YOU teaching your child to become a competent sleeper! One of the best things you will ever teach your child and one of the best things you will do for your entire family, YOU included!
The abundant amount of information, books, tools and opinions that surround us today regarding sleep training can make this subject all the more confusing and heart wrenching. In order to make this work for you and your family, you need to find the method you feel MOST comfortable with and STICK TO IT!! I know that it won’t be easy and you will be flooded with emotions of sadness, guilt, pain, and doubt. Know that you are doing the right thing by teaching your child. Do I mean that you leave your child for hours on end to feel alone and insecure? NO. Do I mean that you neglect your child when they truly need you? Again, NO! What I do mean is that you love and nurture your child during all the waking hours. Then, you love and nurture your child more by teaching them to become an independent and confident sleeper. While you do the teaching you are giving reassurance during gradual and progressively increased intervals of them figuring out how to self-soothe. By doing this, you are giving them the opportunity to get rid of the negative sleep associations: rocked to sleep, co-sleeping, held, feeding to sleep, etc. You are giving them the opportunity to create positive sleep associations that they are capable of reproducing without you. The rocking, feeding, co-sleeping associations are all sleep associations they have formed, but none they can be successful with without you. If you really think about that…it’s really not fair. What would you do if you needed someone to hold your hand to sleep? What if you needed someone else in order for you to rest your head on your pillow comfortably? You would feel so helpless, insufficient and lacking personal confidence. Needless to say you would be tired and cranky.
I’m here to tell you that sleep training is just another skill that you, as parents, need to teach your child to help them grow to the best of their ability. This skill will allow them the opportunity to reach their optimal level of development and be happy during the day. When you think about your child and whether or not you think they are sleeping properly ask yourself these questions: is my child hard to wake each morning? Crabby? Irritable and full of tantrums and meltdowns? Does my child fall asleep in the car most of the time? If some or all of these are yes, then you know for certain your child isn’t getting the recommended hours of sleep per night. Today, get over your fear of tears and remember that tears happen! Day or night, tears happen! Don’t be afraid of them, but conquer them. Teach your child to become a competent sleeper and trust me when I say the tears will go out the door! Happy, well-rested kids are kids who are well behaved and therefore, your entire family will benefit!
For personal sleep coaching or more information please visit my site www.tiaslightham.com