Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Not Let Them "Cry It Out"?

Before your baby was born, he or she was in constant physical contact with you.  There was no reason for he or she to be afraid.  After a baby is born, however, he or she is frequently separated from mother, at least in this culture (United States) and at this time in history (The year 2003).

An infant or young child requires the presence of mother to mediate his or her experiences.  This means that the child relies on the presence of mother to help him or her cope with changes in his/her environment.

A parent who responds consistently and sensitively to their child's cries and tries to meet their child's physical needs creates an emotional attachment.  This emotional attachment is vital to the child's normal physical, emotional, and spiritual development.  A child whose needs are met consistently and sensitively gets the message that he is loved, that he is an important person worthy of being cared for.

Conversely, when a child has a need and you do not tend to it quickly, that child comes to distrust you at a very basic level.  An infant has no concept of could wait ten minutes while they cry, and to them it's the same as ten hours.  They just know that they are cold, hungry, uncomfortable, frightened, and that you DID NOT COME.  In my opinion, an infant should be immediately picked up when they cry.  When a child is a little older, say 12 to 18 months old, they might be able to wait a minute or so, and then the crying will escalate.  When a child is a little older than this, say 2 to 2 and 1/2 years old, they can probably wait 5 minutes.  But they need to know from experience that YOU WILL BE THERE.

When a baby or toddler is tended to quickly, they learn that they don't have to cry much to get a response.  When a baby or toddler is NOT tended to quickly, they learn that they must cry harder, and harder, and louder, and louder, to get your attention.  This sets up an unhealthy pattern.  After all, if you spoke to me and I didn't answer you, the first time you might think it was a mistake or that I didn't hear you.  If it happens over and over, you will come to the conclusion that I am not interested in answering you.  It would be very rude of me to do that.

Why is it that what is accepted as rude when done to an adult is acceptable when done to a child?  In the words of Dr. Williams Sears, responding sensitively and quickly to your child's cries teaches them "to cry better."  Their cries are less irritating and softer.  But if you let the child's cry escalate, it will become irritating and will actually create a situation in which you resent your baby.  But it's not the baby's fault, it's yours!  He's only trying to tell you what he needs; he is exercising his autonomy, but you are not acknowledging it.

When your child cries, trust that your child knows what he needs, and try to meet that need as quickly and sensitively as possible.

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