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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute

Comments received in 2000

(The most recent comments are at the bottom of the page)

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January 6, 2000

My life has not been the same since I read The Aware Baby. Everything you say there seems very logical but yet I find it difficult to implement. I have an eighteen-month boy who would be considered a high need child. According to what I have read in Dr. Sears' book "The Fussy Baby," these kind of babies are born with an immature nervous system and they need their parents to organize their environment for them. I was wondering if you think that these children are an exception to your theory. I read these two books simultaneously and I find myself in constant conflict. I try to do what seems right at the moment but sometimes it involves a lot of guilt. Thank you for your response.

Odelia Shargian
Kfar Saba, Israel

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thank you for your comments. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing some guilt as you strive to do what is best for your child. In my experience, babies who are described as "high-need babies" are usually those who have suffered from early trauma, such as prenatal trauma, birth trauma, or an incubator or early hospitalization experience. These babies have a lot of crying to do, and are therefore often fussy, irregular in their sleep and eating habits, and generally difficult to care for. I do not consider these babies to be an exception to my theory. In fact, the Aware Parenting approach is especially beneficial for these babies, because it helps them heal from the early traumas. Parents who follow the approach described in my books, and continue to hold their "high-need babies" after all immediate needs have been met, while supporting the babies' natural stress-release mechanism of crying, generally find that these babies become more relaxed, less fussy, better sleepers, and more regular in their sleep and eating schedules. Good luck, and thank you again for your comments.


January 10, 2000

Is there any place on-line currently where I can "talk" with other parents about Aware Parenting? I am using your methods but could use support. The crying is hard to allow sometimes and I get nervous about letting her cry so hard and so long. Thanks for any help. I think your work is great, but it is a little scary.

Katherine
San Rafael, California, U.S.A.

Reply from Aletha Solter (

Thanks for your comments and interest in Aware Parenting. You can discuss Aware Parenting ideas with other parents by joining the Aware Parenting Discussion Group at Yahoo. Good luck!


April 3, 2000

I came across your page through links from the Primal Psychotherapy Page, and I've found your articles very interesting.

However, as the dedicated Continuum Concept follower I am, I wonder about one thing (The Continuum Concept is a book written by Jean Liedloff, an American woman who's spent years studying child rearing among tribal peoples); if a recently nursed and diaper changed baby still cries, how can you tell if he's in need of "a good repair cry" in his parent's arms or if he's - actually - in need of being carried around by an active parent, which, according to Liedloff, is a need infants indeed have. An infant needs to be "constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business", as it says on the CC home page.

Sure, the baby stops crying if it's picked up and carried around for a while, but how do you know if it's a need for movement you're satisfying or if it's a need for a repair cry you're "rocking away"? (Of course, maybe you don't share Liedloff's opinions at all!) Thanks for a good page!

Anni Stahel
Skovde, Sweden

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions about our Aware Parenting web site. I am very familiar with Jean Liedloff's work, and we have a link to her web site from our page of links. You will find answers to your questions in my book, The Aware Baby, where I discuss in detail how to determine when a baby really needs to cry. I am sorry that I do not have the time right now to discuss this further with you, because I am currently in Europe doing an intensive 5-week workshop tour. But I wanted to acknowledge your message.


April 6, 2000

I have made a suggestion to the Mothering Magazine web site (www.mothering.com) discussion boards that they add the subject of Aware Parenting as a place for us who are interested in Aletha's works to have an area of on-going support. I encourage others to do so as well. I've found the Parentsplace boards a bit overwhelming and very slow on my end. The Mothering Magazine library (housed in their old office) is where I discovered your first book, Aletha, and I've seen several of your articles in the magazine. Would love to see more, as I want to see your teachings spread through the world; to those who are ready!!!

Candace Reher
Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.


April 26, 2000

I too would be interested in setting up a forum to discuss and provide support for Aware Parents. I know that we can set one up for free at E-Groups.

Robyn Iverson
Gilbert, Arizona, U.S.A.


April 14, 2000

Interesting information. I've seen the level of punishment for children drastically reduced over the last 20 years quite possibly because of information such as this. Coincidentally, I have also noted a sharp rise in the level of violence that the children now inflict on others and at a remarkably young age. Shootings in schools, rapes, etc. Care to explain this if "sparing the rod," as it were, is the answer? The evidence would seem to indicate otherwise.

Steve
Kusel, Germany

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thank you for your comment. I have recently returned from a European workshop tour, and did not have the time to answer you until now.

Your comment surprised me, because you live in a country (Germany) with a recent history of incredible violence. I am referring, of course, to the Holocaust during World War II. When people ruthlessly murder over six million of their fellow, innocent citizens, that's about as violent as you can get. So I disagree with you when you state that violence has been increasing. The isolated cases of violence that you are referring to pale in comparison to World War II and other wars (such as the Vietnam War).

Germany (like many European countries and the U.S.), has a history of very authoritarian child-rearing methods with corporal punishment. In fact, according to Alice Miller's book, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence, all the leaders of the Third Reich (including Hitler) had a strict authoritarian upbringing that included corporal punishment.

After World War II (and perhaps because of it), psychologists, educators, and researchers first began to question the use of punishment in child-rearing, especially corporal punishment. Now, over 50 years later, there is considerable research establishing a correlation between the use of corporal punishment in child-rearing and later violence. We now know that most violent criminals have a history of corporal punishment or other abuse during childhood.

Here is a sample of relevant studies:

Lewis, D.O. et al.(1988). Neuropsychiatric, psychoeducational, and family characteristics of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the U.S. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 584-589.

Caesar, P.L. (1988). Exposure to violence in the families of origin among wife abusers and maritally nonviolent men. Violence Victim, 3(1), 49-63.

Widom, C.S. (1989). The cycle of violence. Science, 244, 160-166.

Straus, M.A. (1991). Discipline and deviance: physical punishment of children and violence and other crime in adulthood. Social Problems, 38(2), 101-123.

Straus, M.A. et al. (1997). Spanking by parents and subsequent antisocial behavior of children. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 151(8), 761-767.

The goal of child-rearing should be to raise children so they will be free of the pent-up rage that is at the root of violence. Non-punitive discipline is only one aspect of the Aware Parenting philosophy. There are many other conditions, described in my three books, that must be met in order to raise children to be compassionate, non-violent adults.


April 27, 2000

Thanks goodness I found your website! I am a new mother of a four month old boy. I didn't give much thought to parenting skills, I thought I would rely on instinct. My boy cries frequently through the night and last night I just held him in my arms in my bed and he stopped immediately. We both felt so relieved! I tried the Ferber method and didn't have much success and found my stress level increased markedly. Your views on crying jibe well with me. I am glad to see someone looking at the whole crying issue in a historical/sociological light. The only alternative I found to the Ferber method was the immediate gratification method, which I also found draining. I will be looking for your books in local bookstores very soon!

Ginny Greene
Thunder Bay
Ontario, Canada


May 12, 2000

My husband and I have been following the suggestions in Tears and Tantrums and The Aware Baby since I bought them when our daughter was three months old. She is now seven months old. The greatest thing the books have done for me is free me from my anxiety about Jayn's crying, and my own fears that I was letting her down somehow by not being able to relieve her from crying. I was already familiar with Brazelton's information about the need babies have to release stress by crying, but Jayn was older than most when she began to have an evening crying session, and it was not every day. She is a wonderfully strong willed little girl, and then as now, will refuse the breast if she wants to cry. Sometimes she fusses, then whimpers for a few minutes, until I can finish what I'm doing and come over to her. Then I may say something like, "OK You can go ahead and cry now" and then she will start, while I hold her with attention. I have learned how to let the disturbing sound of her crying wash over me as I hold her, rather than upset me. She has always been a great sleeper, an infrequent cryer, and is hugely talkative, affectionate and cheerful. She has been happy to play alone for short periods, even up to 20 minutes, since she was three months old. People say, "You have such a good baby" as if there were such a thing as a "bad" one, but I attribute her sunny disposition to a natural and easy birth, being constantly together and all the other good practices of Aware attachment parenting.

If I were to make one suggestion, it would be to quote more contemporary sources and studies than some of the old ones you use. For example Brazelton's most recent book, Touchpoints, elucidates the evening stress release phenomenom just as well as the older work.
Thank you for your work.

Robyn Coburn
Playa Del Rey, California, U.S.A.

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I am pleased that my books have helped you cope with your daughter's crying. I am currently in the process of completely revising and updating The Aware Baby for the next printing, so there will be references that are more up to date.


August 12, 2000

I am so grateful for having found your web site and book, Tears and Tantrums. We were at a point where I thought that I had tried everything and was ready to seek professional help (child psychiatrist). Your method of holding and not spanking has greatly improved our situation with our daughter. We had used time out, spanking, and timing out her toys, bike, or games. Yesterday we had no rages at all, but some crying. Lately it seems that we have one or two rages a day but I hold my daughter and it really seems to be working. Thank you.

Linda
Tennessee, U.S.A.


August 21, 2000

We just want to thank Dr. Solter so sincerely for her revolutionary work. We trust our 17 month old son will thank her too one day. There is a growing group of parents working with the Aware Parenting principles in West Cork in Ireland, and, as we are about to move to Limerick, we would love to know of any parents in that area who may be open to developing a support group. Perhaps somebody knows someone in Ireland who may be ready to look at this work.

Sara & John Devoy
County Limerick, Ireland


September 11, 2000

Hi again Aletha, and thank you for your wonderful book, The Aware Baby. It's helped me incredibly much in parenting my little Tim. You were right, it sure wasn't a "movement need" he was crying for, but rather he needed to cry and rage over his traumatizing birth, I easily noticed that by the way he expressed himself, when I finally let him.

I wanted to ask you another thing. On the Nurturing Online site, there's an article in the Marni Ko collection about nursing. It's very opposed to your work, and dismisses categorically the concept of "overnursing". It also claims that crying in babies, whether attended by a parent or not, is dangerous, with referral to a study. I'd really like to hear your comments on this article, partly because I've had (and occationally still have) an overnursing problem myself, and also because I know very many parents visit this site.

Regards,
Anni, mother to the little sunbeam Tim, eight months in October
Skovde, Sweden

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thanks for your message. I am pleased that my work has helped you. I am familiar with the article you refer to. Apparently, the writer does not understand at all about the importance of emotional release, but has accepted the mainstream idea that all crying is an attempt to communicate an immediate need. Many people, like her, refer to a study by Gene Cranston Anderson claiming that crying is dangerous for infants (causing brain and heart damage). Anderson's article is a one-paragraph abstract of a presentation she made in 1984 to a conference on infant studies. (Anderson is a nurse with a Ph.D.). In her abstract, she summarized research showing that newborn infants who were separated from their mothers in a hospital nursery cried more than those who were with their mothers and fed on cue. This crying caused physiological changes, including increased intracranial pressure (caused by increased cerebral blood volume). She suggested that this kind of crying might place infants at greater risk for psychological and physiological problems (such as brain hemorrhage). However, there is no reference to any study showing that the physiological problems she suggested have ever occurred.

I agree with Anderson that infants should never be left alone to cry, and this was the major point of her paper. I emphasize repeatedly in my work the importance of holding infants when they cry. As for the intracranial blood pressure, there are many activities other than crying that cause this to increase, including laughing, coughing, sneezing, defecating, and exercising. There could be advantages to the increased blood volume in the brain during crying. Researchers have found that crying causes an increase in oxygenation to the brain in healthy infants older than three days of age. During the first three days, crying causes neither an increase nor a decrease in oxygenation to the brain.

Unfortunately, scientific theories often get transmitted as proven facts, and the Internet is like a giant gossip group. I always look for original sources and read the studies myself before making a claim that something is based on scientific research. I have not found any research proving that crying in the loving arms of a parent (after all immediate needs are met) is dangerous for healthy infants.


October 31, 2000

I am a new mother to a 3 month old baby girl, and I read your book, The Aware Baby, two weeks before she was born. After the birth I did not leave her for a second. She came out and I held her for two hours, and I didn't leave her a minute alone during my stay in the hospital. Now, at home, she sleeps with us in the same bed, and she is being carried in a cloth papoose all the time. She eats and sleeps when she chooses to do so. I touch her all the time and I answer all her needs, and I let her cry and give her all my attention to help her "get it off her chest." She is a very happy baby. She smiles when she wakes up and she is very relaxed and calm. Is she like that because of what I am doing, or is it that she was born with this kind of character? I would like to take this opportunity and say that I loved your book and I recommend it to every parent I meet. Thank you very much for opening a way to do it.

Ori Eylom
Kfar Hanagid
Israel

Reply from Aletha Solter

Thank you for your message. I am pleased that my book has helped you with your baby girl. Your question raises the issue of inborn temperaments versus environmental influences, something that researchers have been arguing about for decades. It is, of course, difficult to determine how much behavior is genetically determined and how much is determined by the way we raise children. There is evidence that both factors contribute to a child's personality and behavior. The womb environment and the impact of birth trauma are two environmental factors that are often overlooked in research and debates on this issue. Babies who had a prenatal environment fairly free of stress, and a birth without complications or medical interventions are generally happier, more relaxed, and cry less than babies who experienced prenatal or perinatal trauma. When babies are raised according to the approach described in my books (whether they experienced early trauma or not), they are also more calm and relaxed than those who are not treated as sensitively. So your baby's calmness could be partly the result of a combination of low levels of stress along with the positive effects of Aware Parenting, but it could also be partly her own inborn temperament.


November 20, 2000

Dear Dr. Solter,
I read your book, The Aware Baby, on the advice of Dr. Nesselson in New York City. I just wanted to share my amazing experience with you. I read the book in the morning. That evening Lily was fussing, and I decided to see if she needed to cry. Lily is six months old and has hardly ever cried. I sat down with her in my Dutalier rocker and told her to go ahead and cry, which she did, for a LONG time. My husband and my helper do not understand this, by the way. I have to do it when they aren't around. Now, whenever I think Lily needs to cry I just sit in that chair and watch the water works turn on. It's unbelievable. Lily loves to cry. It has made her an even happier baby than before. It's so wierd. I wonder if I'll ever be able to use that chair for anything else. Thank you for your amazing and revolutionary idea.

Shelby Coleman
New York City, U.S.A


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