Self Soothing – A Dangerous Myth For Lazy Parenting

selfsoothingEan has been quite restless and fussy the last couple of days. Complaining and crying when not in our arms and in need of stimulation, closeness and entertainment. Why not try to sit him up and enjoy his constantly developing eyesight? Oh he loved it! Obviously he’s too young for his spine and head to support him longer than a few minutes but it gives our arms a break and right now it’s just too hot to wear the wrap for longer durations of time. But it’s okay, pretty soon we’re going to be longing for those sweet simple days when every problem could be fixed with food, diapers or cuddles. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t feel that holding my child a few hours per day is worse than the consequence of the so called “self soothing” approach.

Whatever you’ve read or heard about self soothing or the idea of letting baby’s cry themselves to sleep… it’s not an approach I appreciate. I strongly believe that it teaches the child abandonment at an early and fundamental stage in life. A person this young does not have ulterior motives for crying, it’s primal. So whether it’s diaper change, food, heat, cold or closeness that is desired, I feel it’s detrimental to his health to leave him unsatisfied and in disharmony.

You mean to tell me it would be beneficial in any way for that person to be left alone in that state of mind, only to “cry it out”, jacked up on stress and learn that nobody is coming?

I mean, just imagine it. Your entire existence up to this point you have never known hunger, thirst, cold or heat. Everything has been delivered to you exactly the way you needed it, when you need it in the womb. Then, you leave that world, enter a new one where every need you have, has to be addressed by crying and screaming for help. Your body is strange to you, all that space is strange to you, and those arms that are hitting you in the face when you’re crying desperately probably don’t help.

You mean to tell me it would be beneficial in any way for that person to be left alone in that state of mind, only to “cry it out”, jacked up on stress and learn that nobody is coming? I think that sets a horrible trend for his development, that the first thing he learns in life is that he is on his own and nobody is coming to his aid.

Simply put, baby’s don’t have an enough evolved brain to self sooth, this comes after a few years.

Years ago, during a stage performance, I made an off script remark that violent people are violent because they didn’t get enough love and affection when they were young, urging their peers to give them a hug (in that context, referring to people who wage war, at the time Bush, Saddam and Osama). A remark which caused a massive negative response and cancellation of one of my biggest performances to date. I think I hit a nerve, need a hug?

I digress…

Self soothing has many names and configurations but they all rely on the same thing, teaching your child not to cry. It’s not a question whether it works or not, it’s a question of HOW and WHY it works. Simply put, baby’s don’t have an enough evolved brain to self sooth, this comes after a few years. So when you let them cry and leave them in a state of stress, what happens is they simply freeze up. You probably heard of the fight or flight instinct. Well the third F is to freeze, which is a coping mechanism for your body to retain internal balance and not, in lack of better words… go bonkers. So sure you get to sleep a few more hours, but at what price?

For more information, read this article by Sarah Ockwell-Smith: http://sarahockwell-smith.com/2014/06/30/self-settling-what-really-happens-when-you-teach-a-baby-to-self-soothe-to-sleep/