Self-Soothing to Sleep and Why I Ignored It

5Sep2013

Self-Soothing to Sleep and Why I Ignored It

 

There are a lot of schools of thought about how children should be raised. I think it is very important for each family to decide what will work for their own children. Something that may work for one family may not work for another.

 

One thing I read a lot about when I was pregnant with my first was having your child self soothe themselves to sleep. Sometimes it was referred to as Crying it Out.

When I was reading up on it there were a lot of benefits to a child learning this at an early age. It could help with their independence, their self-reliance, perhaps even their self-esteem. Who wouldn’t want that for their child? I decided that this was something I needed to do; so when he was old enough to sleep through the night I gave it a try.

 

Now I think any mom who has attempted to have their child cry it out will tell you that it is extremely difficult. Sitting there, listening to your baby cry rips your heart apart. It’s compounded by the fact that you know all it would take to dry their tears is picking them up and soothing them. But you feel you are doing the best for them, so you let them cry.

 

That first night I remember my son cried for about an hour before I caved in and went in his room and rocked him to sleep.

The next night he cried for about an hour again, before finally falling asleep by himself. I remember going in and checking on him, surprised that it actually worked. I knew I should have felt proud for sticking with it and doing something good for him.

But I didn’t feel proud. I felt guilty for allowing my baby to cry; for making him think I wasn’t there for him. But I told myself it would get better.

 

A few days later I was playing with him on my bed and he fell asleep. I decided to take a nap with him, because I rarely got that option.

About an hour later I woke up; and there was my baby, snuggled up against with his arms wrapped around my neck.

In that moment, looking at my precious baby with his chubby little fingers tangled in my hair, I had an epiphany.

 

He was going to grow up very fast. There would come a time when he didn’t need my like he did then. He wouldn’t want to snuggle against me. He wouldn’t need me—wouldn’t want me—to rock him to sleep.

That time was coming and it was coming way too soon. So why would I want to rush, to make it come faster? He was my child and I was his mother, and if he wanted me to rock and sing him to sleep every night for a few years, how could I deny him that?

 

He is now almost 5, and I sit beside his bed almost every night while he falls asleep. I don’t think it has hindered his development in any way. I think it has reassured him that I will be there for him to protect him and make him feel comfortable no matter what.

 

There will be plenty of time for him to work on his independence and self-reliance. For now, I am content to let him be a little boy who needs his mommy.

 

In fact…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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