I’m thinking back to a time when my fellow blogger Anna was having troubles with baby girl S sleeping, and she posted something on Facebook about “sleep training.” My ears pricked up because the term seemed so honest and odd – had we really come to the point where we were training one another to sleep? Wasn’t sleep already an instinctual response to being tired?
I admit that the term “sleep training” just flat out rubbed me the wrong way. It sounded to me like one more thing that parents were creating a pseudo science out of when it could be as easy – and as infinitely difficult – as listening to our children and being aware of their daily patterns. I have heard numerous stories of parents struggling with their child’s sleep habits; they try different methods until something works for them. It works for them but is it really working for the child?
I know. I am really opinionated on this topic. Unapologetically so. I feel like when our children are crying, they are communicating with us in the way that they can. Waiting a child’s crying out, putting the child in another room, or building the expectation that just a little silent solitary time will soothe a little one to sleep just seems off kilter to me.
Does this develop a more resilient child? Two key factors that foster resilience in children are modeling positive behaviors and getting adequate sleep. There is no possible way I can keep a level head as a parent or individual if I have not had a good night of shuteye myself. When I look at it this way then I can start to empathize with parents who are losing sleep daily. I remember feeling triumphant that I got six hours of cumulative sleep with my newborn; my midwife told me it wouldn’t be long before I would go crazy if I kept that sleep pattern up. And she was right. When I started to stay in bed longer, I was more stable, refreshed, and resilient myself.
But what is there to say for the issue of compassion? I can’t help but come back to the idea that in a child’s cry is a hurt or a pain. This little being has an immature nervous system and is trying to understand the stimuli and sensations of life. I am almost 38 years old and these things still scare me! We are born with an instinctive urge to be close to one another, to be social, and to comfort one another. I have been pushed to the brink of snapping numerous times in the quest to soothe a sick, hungry, demanding, teething, scared, or restless child…but in the end, showing that extra bit of care and patience has taught me so much about parenting and about myself.
I expect that this all will ruffle a few feathers…so I am curious to hear about how others have addressed sleep issues. Did you “train”? Do you co-sleep? Did you just go with the flow or did you Ferberize?