Transforming families around the world
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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute
Comments received in 1999
(The most recent comments are at the bottom of the page)
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Please note that this is not a personal advice column. If you are a parent in need of advice or support, please visit our Parent Support Page or schedule a telephone consultation with Dr. Solter. Click here for more information about her consultations.
April 5, 1999
I read your book, The Aware Baby, and realized the profound implications of what you have to offer... I will spend more time on your site and with your other books as well. I really believe that your concepts need to get out to more people - that the understanding you have of parenting and children's needs could have a huge and needed impact on society. I am pregnant with my first child and am grateful for your guidance.
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
April 14, 1999
Dear Dr. Solter,
I'm French, and not sure that my English will allow me to express to you all I would like to say. I am the mother of a joyful 12-month-old boy, and I read your book, The Aware Baby, twice. It's such a real and deep help for me, that I needed to tell you. Because of your book, I feel able to be a mother much closer to what I feel in my heart, soul, and mind, than the way I was beginning to act (sometimes), I mean the way my own mother acted, who was considered in my familly such a "good mother." The problems I have (even if I love my baby) with being calm and tolerant, when I don't understand what my baby wants or when there's some conflict with him, make me realize all the work I still have to do to overcome my own childhood and infancy. Thank you so much for your work. I will buy the new book and will try to go to one of your workshops when you come to Europe in the spring of 2000. Thank you again.
May 9, 1999
I enjoyed your site so much and reprinted articles for my husband to read. We are parents to 21-month-old Jared. We practice attachment style parenting. I am also very interested in pre- and perinatal psychology. Presently I do massage therapy and am a new doula. Thank you for all your work for families. I will be getting your newest book.
Clinton, New York, U.S.A.
May 13, 1999
I am the Mum of a 6-week-old beautiful baby boy and have felt ever so guilty about his crying episodes in the evening, and would offer him the breast or walk him until he fell asleep. For the first time today my husband (who has told me from the start that crying is okay) and I are cuddling him as he cries through this session. After reading your article on what to do when babies cry, the feelings of gulit are gone. I would like to be able to purchase some of your books but am in Australia. Do you know of anywhere that stocks your books here?
Reply from Aletha Solter:
Thanks for your message. I am pleased that my article has been helpful to you. You can inquire at your local bookstore to see if they can obtain copies of my books from U.S. wholesalers. (My books are available from all the major wholesalers.) My books can also be easily obtained through the on-line bookstores such as amazon.com, or directly from us (see our web site for ordering information).
July 19, 1999
Dear Dr. Solter,
I just finished reading Tears and Tantrums no less than 5 minutes ago. I want to thank you for writing the book. I now have a new start with my daughters. I was brought up with the "stop crying or else" philosophy. I have employed that with both of my daughters with frustrating results. My oldest daughter, Cecily, seemed to be distant and easily brought to tears. I could not stand to hear her cry! I would become frustrated and lose my temper. The more she cried, the more upset I became. I felt like a failure. Why was my child crying for no reason? She is also a thumb sucker. She would cry a little and then stop when her thumb was in her mouth. I thought this was a good action since her thumb would cease her crying.
Boy was I wrong! Your book showed me this was incorrect, that the problem was she wasn't crying enough. I did not want to accept the idea at first. The thought of encouraging her to cry made me cringe. But, as luck would have it, I was able to use your principles while I was in the middle of reading your book. My daughters' daycare was having a field trip to the beach. They were both so excited, until the morning of the trip. It was their first field trip so Cecily was a little scared. She cried at everything that morning! But instead of yelling at her or trying to distract her, I stopped whatever I was doing and sat down to hold her. I told her I was there and that it was okay to cry. She gave me the most confused look I have ever seen. So I told her again, "It's okay to cry. I am not going to get upset. Crying is okay. I cry too when I am scared." She relaxed and cried a little, then stuck her thumb in her mouth. I could tell she wasn't done crying. So I told her again that it was okay to cry. She pulled her thumb out and cried a little more, then the thumb went back in. We did this probably five different times that morning. I was amazed at the transformation in her attitude that morning. We did not battle or have yelling matches. Instead Cecily was relaxed, happy, and ready to go to the beach! I can't thank you enough!! The Aware Baby should be recommended reading for all parents!
Newbury Park, California, U.S.A.
August 24, 1999
I just finished reading Tears and Tantrums a few days ago and have been applying this knowledge to the parenting of my two year old son. Thank you for this book and for all of your research behind it. The positive results of allowing my son to cry it out, of holding him when he is upset and acknowledging his need to cry has made immediate and dramatic improvements in his behavior. Much to my relief, the tension and irritation I previously felt toward him when he rages or fusses is no longer. Now that I understand his needs and the reasons behind my own reactions to his tantrums, I am more at peace with myself and a much more effective, affectionate mother. There is much more I could say but I will stop at THANK YOU!
Sterling, Virginia, U.S.A.
September 9, 1999
I am very grateful for your books, Aletha. I was so happy to stumble across The Aware Baby when my daughter was an infant. Her father had been very active in the Reevalutation Counseling community here in Santa Fe, and I had some experience with co-counseling and Holotropic Breathwork. Your books assisted us in learning how to use our own knowledge and experience to benefit our new baby. However, I was very uncomfortable in letting her cry, even with focused, loving attention until she was about six months old. Her father was more comfortable with doing so. My instincts were to nurse her when she cried.
Now that I look back I wonder about the neurological immaturity of newborns and wonder if it really is appropriate to let them cry with attention. I wonder if they are really able to release at such a young age, before their neurological systems are matured a bit. On one hand, it might be the best time to release any trauma that might have been experienced from the birth. On the other hand, I'm afraid it might be adding more stress to their system.
I'm curious about your thoughts or anyone else's. I'm glad I followed my instincts at the time, but now I'm really wondering.
Santa Fe, New Mexico U.S.A.
Reply from Aletha Solter:
Thanks for your comments and interest in Aware Parenting. The concerns you express are shared by many mothers. In my experience, mothers who have information about the physiological importance of crying, and who learn to read their babies' cues very carefully, notice that infants actually do indicate that they need to cry at times, rather than to nurse. When the mothers hold their babies lovingly and allow this natural tension release to take place, the babies are usually extremely calm and relaxed after a good cry, sleep soundly, and awaken later bright and alert. So to answer your question, I do think that babies are fully equipped to handle crying as tension release from birth on, provided they are not left to cry alone. Studies have shown that crying itself does not lead to a physiological stress response. The stress is elsewhere (birth trauma, overstimulation, etc.), and crying is the healing process.
Some mothers, like you, are understandably uncomfortable with this, and prefer to nurse their babies frequently during the early months. I respect that choice. But I do warn mothers that this can lead to frequent night awakenings caused by pent-up tensions and also to frequent temper tantrums and sibling squabbles after the child is weaned from the breast. These behaviors are indications that the child is attempting to "catch up" on the crying. When mothers (and fathers) are warned ahead of time to expect this, it makes it easier to deal with these emotional outbursts in a loving way.
In traditional cultures where the mothers typically nurse their infants very frequently during the early months (and years), there is often considerable crying and tantruming when the child is weaned from the breast at 3 or 4 years of age. These crying spells, commonly observed by anthropologists, last for weeks or even months after weaning. A possible explanation for this crying is that these children are "catching up" on all the crying that was repressed during infancy. Please see my newest book, Tears and Tantrums if you have not yet read it. It further describes all of this in detail.
September 13, 1999
Dear Dr. Solter:
I enjoyed the book very much! I have a question, though: I always hold my four month old baby when he cries, but sometimes when I put him in his bed for a daytime nap he starts to cry and fuss (and I know he doesn't need anything else but sleep). I then hold his shoulder and torso and look at him lovingly until he's finished (instead of picking him up and holding him in my arms). He then falls asleep and may or may not wake again needing this same attention. Am I not supposed to do this while he's in bed? Should I be holding him? I have done it while sitting in a chair, but when he falls asleep I disturb him putting him in bed, so I hold him in this loving attentive way as he's laying down. What is your opinion of my "in bed routine" when he needs to cry? I certainly want to communicate only the best of things to him, so I need to know whether I should stop this practice! Thanks.
Reply from Aletha Solter:
Thank you for your message and interest in Aware Parenting. You do not say which one of my books you have read, but I assume it is The Aware Baby or the German translation of it, "Warum Babys weinen".
With an infant as young as four months of age, I recommend always holding the baby when he cries. If your baby is still fussy after you have checked for all immediate needs and discomforts (such as hunger, coldness, etc.), you can continue holding him until he falls asleep. He will release tensions by crying in your arms if he needs to. Babies need this closeness and reassurance before falling asleep.
If he awakens when you put him down, it probably means that you have not waited long enough. Babies do not go directly into deep sleep, but pass through a stage of light sleep first. If you wait ten to twenty minutes after he has fallen asleep in your arms, he will probably be in a deep sleep, and you will then be able to lay him down gently without awakening him.
In our Western cultures, we have the mistaken notion that babies should learn to fall asleep on their own. I do not agree with this. The young of all land mammals fall asleep snuggled against their mother's body. Our human babies need this same physical closeness. It is impossible to hold a baby too much.
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