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Category Archives: crying

Threats to Withhold Christmas Presents Are Only a Short Term Fix for Behavior

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We just returned from a big overseas trip to America a few weeks ago, and my 5 1/2 year old had been really driving me crazy. During this trying time with her, my patience had been especially thin, since I was already run down and tired myself. When she walked past me and whacked me on the butt. Or… threw something at her little sister… Or purposely dumped her toys all over the floor with a menacing grin on her face… You know…

I was all like, “WHAT.ARE.YOU.DOING!?!?”

This was not her normal behavior. At one point, I nearly blurted out, “If you don’t stop acting like this, you’re not going to get any presents for Christmas!

I caught myself before I said it, because those words were not mine. I guess I had heard too many tired parents in the shops, yelling at their overwhelmed kids and the words sneaked into my consciousness. Not only do I not believe in threatening children, but our family does not make the condition that receiving Christmas presents is contingent on desirable behavior.

When children act obnoxious, it’s because they have a need that is not being fulfilled. I mentally checked our recent interactions… What had we been doing lately? Lot’s of shuffling the kids around and trying to get things back to normal? Check. Lots of chaos in the shopping centers and disruption from it being Christmas time? Check. Lots of quality connection time? Unchecked…

As mad as I felt about her behavior, I had to understand. Her behavior was telling me that she needed something. That afternoon, I spent about half an hour, giving her full attention, high energy, laughter play. We did some funny role playing, where she pretended to be me and she got to boss me around. Then, we played hide and seek. Lots of giggling and running. When we had to finish playing, she cried over something. She cried hard. This crying, I knew, was something that had to come out. It had been brewing for a while.

Kids love receiving presents. But, what they really love, especially around the silly season, is our connection. Threatening, punishing and bribing kids with Christmas presents works for achieving short term compliance. If you’re desperate to get cooperation, go for it, but know that threats only postpone getting to the root of the problem. Using threats creates disconnection and can cause even more trouble down the line. One day the threats will stop working and the peaceful lines of communication will be in dire need of repair.

When we’re on the threshold of our sanity, it’s hard to peel ourselves out of that rut of anger and of seeing intention. But, if we can see that undesirable behavior in children is only a cry for help, then we can be more useful in facilitating the long term emotional development of our children. My daughter will still get her presents this year, regardless of her behavior. I know that what she desperately needs right now is connection time from me. What’s funny, is that when I feel too tired to give her the connection time, her behavior is much more exhausting than just giving her a small session of play.

Already, her behavior has improved immensely after just a few sessions of play and connection. Wishing you all peace and joy this holiday season!

For more information on was to play with your child to create connection, I highly recommend reading Aletha Solter’s book, “Attachment Play‘. I’ve also written several blog posts on types of play, power reversal games and other types of play 

Too Tired To Sleep: How a Supported Cry Can Help

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When I put Goldie to bed at around 7pm, I thought for sure that she would fall asleep and be out cold for the night… I mean, the kid was BEYOND exhausted after having a massive day out. She usually sleeps through the night every other night, but within a half an hour of me putting her to bed, she was up crying!

Ugh!” I thought! “What the FRICKING HELL! She is exhausted, why won’t she sleep!

I went in the bedroom to lay down with her so she would fall back to sleep. She kept dozing and then waking back up, whining, squirming and half hearted crying. I started getting so annoyed! Really! I knew she was exhausted, so why wasn’t she sleeping?!

Luckily, the lightbulb switched on for me. She hadn’t had a big cry in a very long time, maybe a couple months. I knew it was time. Read the rest of this entry

Why I Love My Child’s Temper Tantrums

 

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Margo, 4 1/2, had been acting really aggressive towards her 2 year old sister for several days. No amount of asking her to “Be gentle” or “How would you feel if somebody did that to you” was working. Everyone in the house had been worn down from weeks of recovering from the flu. On top of that, I had been working full time on a two week contract. Where usually, I would be able to stay home with the kids and help us all to recover, I had not been available much. The kids had been clingy and grumpy. A big storm was brewing and finally, the time came that I had the energy to deal with it. Read the rest of this entry

Ten Non-Reasons Why Your Baby is Crying

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Babies cry. You don’t have to feel bad about it. Either they’re trying to tell you something (they’re hungry, scared, etc.) or they’re frustrated or in pain.  We should always do the best we can to respond to a crying baby’s needs. Yes, sometimes it’s overwhelming and yes sometimes you need to put a crying baby down for a moment. Yes, we live in a silly society where parents live isolated and don’t have enough help. Sometimes, you pick up a baby and they just keep crying. Read the rest of this entry

Should We Never Ever Judge?

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Judgement: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. –Oxford Dictionary

I got in a bit of facebook trouble today (as you do sometimes) when I posted a Miss. Judgey Pants remark that went like this:

“Society has taught us to hold into our material possessions, but not to hold on to our babies.

A young fit father was pushing his three or four month old baby in a stroller with one hand and holding a coffee in the other. The baby was screaming and shaking. Dear Sir. Put down your coffee. Stop pushing the stroller. Pick up your baby!”

Read the rest of this entry

Is it Really a Good Idea to Distract A Terrified Child?

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Moments after the deluge… after a big cuddle… still plugging her ears.

It had been raining for days and we were getting cabin fever. I saw a break in rain clouds on the radar, and told Margo, 4 years old, to grab her swimsuit so we could dash down to the boat harbor before the next rain squall. But… we weren’t fast enough. Half way through our swim, we had to bolt. We were walking through a wide open field when it started bucketing rain and the wind was nearly horizontal. All I had to protect us was this enormous golf umbrella!

Read the rest of this entry

Why I Would Never EVER Let My Babies Cry It Out

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I can’t believe I’m writing ANOTHER post on sleep training. But, every time I hear someone talk about how *great* sleep training is, or Ferberizing, or cry it out, or whatever, I just can’t help it. One day, my dream is that people will sit around, scratching their heads, wondering why on earth anyone would ever leave a young baby in another room alone to cry. Read the rest of this entry

Yes, That’s My Kid Having the Loudest Public Meltdown Ever, and I Didn’t Try to Stop It!

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Have you ever experienced the joys of HUNDREDS of people staring at you in shock and disbelief? Oh yes, I did today. Read the rest of this entry

So What if African Babies Cry Less!

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Have you heard?  African babies cry significantly less than western babies.

When my girls were babies, I did almost all of the things that any African mother would do with her baby (and yes, I’m stereotyping). I had peaceful births. I slept with my babies. I wore my babies for hours a day and  never used a stroller. I breastfed on demand and always kept them close. I even took them to the toilet (called elimination communication), which is exactly what African woman, without access to diapers, would do. I kept things quiet in the home. I ate a healthy diet. I also don’t have a TV. I don’t smoke, drink or raise my voice (often)… But… I have to tell you… my babies have cried. Oh, have they cried.

I get sort of annoyed when I see that meme floating around Facebook about African babies crying less. Read the rest of this entry

A Few Big Secrets About Frequent Nighttime Waking in Babies and Toddlers

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(Original post was written in July, 2013, but I heavily revised it since)

How much night waking is ‘normal’
Many women, especially the cosleeping/breastfeeding kind, at some point, become exhausted by constant night waking and get burned out (especially by the time your baby turns into a 2 or 3 year old and is still waking up all night long for boob). I’m all about on demand feeding, don’t get me wrong. And, I’m a strong advocate for cosleeping (actually, my kids don’t even have their own room, we all share one). My babies were chubby and fed as much as they pleased…  BUT.. when my older daughter was about five months old, she was waking up almost every hour or more.  I knew that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t just a few nights, it was way too frequent and way too many nights/weeks in a row. She seemed very restless and irritated. So, I started looking for gentle answers, not for my sake, but for hers, to see if constant night waking was really considered natural…  I’m not talking the usual once or twice a night.  I’m talking about excessive waking.  Did cave babies used to wake up every hour?  I had to find out.

BABIES WAKE TO PEE!
A little known secret in first world countries, where nearly all babies wear nappies (even mine), is that they can actually  be taken to the toilet, day and night. Yes, it’s true! The ‘sleep experts‘ don’t mention this one much.

In the first world, we refer to responding to a baby’s toileting needs as elimination communication (EC).  

Babies will not eliminate in a deep sleep.
First, they stir. So baby wakes, then, mom or dad have some routine of getting baby back to sleep. If you’re cosleeping and your baby is in your bed, often your first reaction is usually to stick the boob into the mouth or use whatever settling technique you use. Plug up the noise hole and pray that they go back to sleep. Sometimes they go back to sleep and you can ‘milk it‘ (haha, get it) for another hour or two, but then the stirring happens again… then the pee… then they’re wet.

No animal in the wild lets its baby poop and pee where it sleeps without cleaning it up. Human babies are not designed to sleep through the night anyway, especially because they to need eliminate several times a night or feed if they’re little (the frequency depends on the age of the baby).  Even though it seems like practicing EC (elimination communication) with a baby at night is a huge pain in the arse, I often feel like it’s a matter of short term effort, long term benefit (ehm, longer stretches of sleep). Now, I know that not everyone is going to be jumping up and down with their hand up to take their baby to pee in the middle of the night. BUT, if you at least know that elimination is a reason for night waking, then you’re a step closer to understanding what’s going on.  If you want to know more about EC, you can read a post I wrote here. Which brings us to the next secret…

Is Your Baby an All Night Boober?  The Cycle of B00b –> Pee
It was a natural instinct for me to correlate frequent night feeds with frequent trips to the potty. So, I started lessening the amount of time I allowed on the boob per night feed. I would allow a nibble, not a huge meal, and then pull away. Or, sometimes not offer at all.  Unless… my baby was going through a day time feeding strike, in which case, I allow for a little extra boob at night.  But, constant night feeding, to me, just means that I have to wake up and take them to the potty more (yawn.. who wants to do that five times a night?).  ‘What goes in, some must come out.‘ When I thought of it this way, it felt natural for me to shorten the night feeds. (This refers to older babies.  I would never shorten the night feeds of a young baby) I didn’t read it from a book or anything.  I think even the cave woman might have thought like that. They wouldn’t have wanted to get out from under their wooly mammoth skin rug at night, if their baby had to pee… I’m sure they would have encouraged smaller feeds at night for that reason!

Babies need to release stress during the day through crying (in arms only)!
In my research, I stumbled across Aletha Solter’s parenting movement called ‘Aware Parenting‘.  She mentioned something called ‘cry in arms‘ and that really struck a chord in me. You see, I had been practicing and teaching yoga and meditation for years before I had kids.  Some of the processes and techniques that I had practiced myself, meant that we sometimes released stress, from built up anger and frustration, in the form tears. We all know how emotionally beneficial and healing it is to have a ‘good cry‘. But, up until my daughter was five months old, I had done everything in my power to keep her from crying. I gave her boob even if she had already been fed.  I rocked her. Distracted her.  Bounced from side to side. I never tried a dummy (pacifier) but, I did almost EVERYTHING to stop the crying.

But, Aletha is saying to allow the crying (in arms and of course, after all needs have been met).  Toss away the dummy, don’t jiggle, don’t rock, or anything that  is a control pattern for them. Just hold your baby lovingly and let their emotions pour out. Most of the time, I was doing exactly the opposite!

Some parents go to the other extreme and put their baby in the other room to cry alone.  But, Aware Parenting is saying to do something different. It’s not easy being born, and it’s not easy adjusting to life outside the womb. Babies get stressed just like adults, it’s just that they have little other ways to express their stress than through crying.  Imagine if you were having a huge sob… would you want someone to make you stop crying by distracting you or by shoving something in your mouth? Or, would you rather just have a soft shoulder to cry on until you ‘got it all out‘?  It’s the same for babies.

Again, going back to my meditation background.  I know that if I don’t meditate sometime before going to bed, I have crazy dreams and have disturbed sleep. I need that stress release before bed.  Similarly, babies and young children need some sort of stress release too. That release comes out in the form of a cry.

Once I started allowing my baby to cry, lovingly in my arms, when she needed it, she started sleeping so much better at night. We found a really good rhythm at night and her waking every hour for boob at night dropped almost immediately back to waking maybe two or three times a night (which is pretty reasonable, in my mind, for a baby of that age). I’ve done cry in arms with both of my girls. Keep in mind, the aim of doing cry in arms is actually not to get a baby to sleep better at night, it just happens to be one of the positive by-products!

To learn more about Aware Parenting and ‘cry in arms‘, I highly recommend reading Aletha Solter’s book, “Tears and Tantrums“.  She explains in detail and with studies based research everything that I mentioned.

Re-Thinking Night Waking
Night waking in babies and ALL people, is totally normal (how do you think I write all my blogs at 1 in the morning.. I wake up and do them!)  But, how frequent is another story. Obviously, if a child is sick, teething or going through developmental phases, they will certainly be more restless at night. There also other things to make the night waking less taxing on your system. Like, you going to bed earlier, cosleeping, diet, etc. But, if you look at the overall trend in you baby’s night waking, and it seems excessive, it might pay to consider a few things that many people overlook.  Liquid in=liquid out. Boob addiction. And, allowing a baby to release stress and tension that accumulates during the day.

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