Let’s take a quick look ….
The term self soothing is actually quite misleading because our little one’s, whether they’re babies, toddlers or preschoolers are unable to do such a thing on their own.
When our little one’s are born they have a massively underdeveloped brain and the part of the brain that controls emotions and helps us calm down is not working at capacity. Therefore it’s the parent that has to provide the soothing.
If you’ve been part of my crowd for a while you will already know we have talked a lot about this with reference to behaviour and emotions.
💡Let me explain a little bit more. 💡
So, in order to regulate emotions we need to have reasoning skills and be able to apply some logic to situations. It all get’s quite complicated from here on in because we need to go into brain development, but basically some parts of the brain don’t become fully mature until adolescence or indeed early 20’s! Again, with this knowledge it becomes easy to understand that babies, toddlers and preschoolers do not yet have those skills.
However, when the parent provides some form of comfort for example rocking, cuddling, talking, reassurance, etc I guess you could say you, the parent are laying the foundations for the future brain development of the skills needed to regulate, calm and soothe. So in other words, the ability to manage those emotional responses and calm down needs to come from the parent.
Now sometimes in absolute desperation, or because we often simply don’t know what else to do some of us might be tempted to leave our little one’s to cry.
I’ve heard advice given about putting a stair gate over the bedroom door to stop your toddler from getting out of the bedroom.
I’ve even heard of mums being advised to hold the bedroom door shut when their pre-schooler is crying on the other side. Again, to stop them getting out of bed.
Now, for me, if I apply my own logical and rational thinking to that scenario it could mean only one thing. Your little one would be gripped with fear and upset and their brains would be flooded with cortisol and adrenaline. None of this would help them calm and soothe their emotions.
As always this post isn’t about making you feel guilty if you’ve ever done any of these things. I’ve done plenty of things that I wish I hadn’t, believe me. My aim is always to give you information that will help you to solve your challenges.
💡Understanding some of this will help you make better choices in how you manage your sleep challenges.
So if you have done any of this you can take comfort from the fact that, as humans, we are incredibly resilient. All babies, toddlers, preschoolers and children at some point will encounter stressful situations that can’t be avoided and I believe, in the whole scheme of things some crying isn’t gonna cause devastating damage. So please don’t rack yourself with guilt if you’ve left your little one to cry.
💡However, sleep training isn’t the only option. There are so many things you can implement to improve your little one’s chances of better sleep. You don’t need to resort to stairgates and door shutting and it’s not something I would recommend.
In saying that, just to balance things, I always say there isn’t a right or perfect way to parent. Nevertheless, if we’re armed with the information to make an informed choice for ourselves and our family, then we have every right to make the decision to sleep train. As long as we understand that sleep training isn’t the ideal solution and take care to minimize the stress for our little ones.
💡P.S. Need more help with sleep. You’re more than welcome to join our free support group >>HERE<<