Transforming families around the world
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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute
Comments received in 2006
(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.
January 24, 2006
Yet another 'Thank you' Dr Solter
I discovered your books whilst browsing amazon.com for some reading on the next few years of my two-year-old son's development, following a period over Christmas where I sensed he had been very much overstimulated, the result being what is dangerously known as the terrible two's.
Coming from the belief that instinct and feelings are the best guides to parenting, I have nevertheless read widely over the past two years, delighting in confirmation of my motherly insticts in some very wonderful books. Over the last four days I've devoured Helping Young Children Flourish and Tears and Tantrums (The Aware Baby should drop through the letterbox any day!) and feel that, far from being a philosophy or a theory, you have backed up with excellent facts and figures what all parents would know, if only they were in touch with their feelings, let alone felt free enough to follow them. A lot of the books I've read, though fascinating, kind and loving, could go in the bin now, as they just miss the point, or make it all too complicated.
Our son, Leon, is a super, very aware boy, advanced for his age, trusting, communicative, etc, and nevertheless, over the past months, his crying was sometimes at such a pitch and intensity that my husband and I would find ourselves yelling his name, which seemed to snap him out of it. It felt wrong, and damaging, but there was a missing link which we weren't getting, and we felt lost as to how to be. All clarified now! I am due to have our second son any day now. (No guesses as to what has been causing Leon stress!)...
I can only send you my heartfelt gratitude that we discovered your work now, still at a fairly young age for Leon, and we can't wait for our second son to be born and give him this space to be, from birth this time.
Totnes, Devon, United Kingdom
February 7, 2006
Dear Dr. Solter,
On your website I have just read Temper tantrums in two-year-old and found it to be incredibly useful. Your comments have helped me to understand our two-year-old daughter, Hannah, much better and I am very grateful for your information. I agree wholeheartedly with your approach.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
February 20, 2006
Bruce Chatwin, in his book, The Songlines, proposes that humans have an instinct in infancy to be carried by a walking person, and cry because we expect to be eaten by a hyena if not picked up. He describes a swinging cradle with a triangular motion in a vertical plane, mimicking the motion of being walked, which will quiet crying better than a simple, back-and-forth swing.
Hessel, Michigan, U.S.A.
Reply from Aletha Solter
Thank you for your comments to our web site. What you wrote is very interesting, and the rocking theory seems to make intuitive sense from an evolutionary point of view.
In my experience, however, many babies continue to cry even though they are being walked around in arms or put into swinging cradles. Others quiet down, but only temporarily, and the parents feel that they must provide more movement stimulation for their baby every time the baby begins to cry. This can go on all night long, night after night. I find it hard to believe that our prehistoric ancestors walked around with their infants both day and night. They probably slept with their infants close to their own bodies for protection, but I doubt if they got up every few hours to walk around with their babies.
Research suggests that one of the functions of crying is to release pent-up stress resulting from early trauma (for example birth trauma in the case of complicated deliveries). Crying can also be a way to discharge overstimulation to the central nervous system. Efforts to stop this kind of crying through rocking the infants or giving them something to suck on usually result in only temporary calmness.
Older babies and toddlers who are old enough to sleep through the night, but who have become dependent on rocking or sucking to fall back to sleep, rarely sleep well. Instead, they continue to awaken every few hours, and this habit can continue for years. That's when many exhausted parents turn to Aware Parenting for help and support. We teach them how to practice the crying-in-arms approach, which helps babies sleep through the night without ignoring them. For more information about this approach, please see my article, Crying for Comfort, and my book, The Aware Baby.
To conclude, I do not consider rocking to be a cure-all because the issue of crying during infancy is much more complex. I do agree that a primal instinct is to be held in arms most of the time, and no infant should ever be left to cry alone. However, movement stimulation is only one of many possible loving responses to a crying infant, and it is not always the most appropriate response.
March 16, 2006
As a parent educator and an advocate for children and families, I thank you so greatly for your beautiful and critical work. Much of my journey has been guiding parents who love children with attachment trauma histories. Yet I feel passionate about promoting prevention, beginning with conscious conception.
Again, I truly appreciate your insight.
Founder, The Attuned Parent
San Diego, California, U.S.A.
March 21, 2006
I just stumbled onto this site and read the ten Principles of Aware Parenting. My daughter is now twenty years old and is a product of this parenting philosophy. Oddly, it came naturally to me. I didn't read about it. I had no name for it. I just did what came naturally to me and most of the time it was to the harsh criticism of most of the advice givers around me who thought I was holding my baby too much, nursing her too long, etc. I can now say that I have had the privledge of hearing my child say that she is so happy that I am her mother. That gave me the greatest feeling of accomplisment that I could ever have.
Rise Webb Beckley
West Virginia, U.S.A.
May 1, 2006
Dear Dr. Solter,
I am a developmental psychologist who is very interested in learning more about Aware Parenting. Your home page states that Aware Parenting is "based on cutting-edge research." Looking through your webpage, however, I was not able to find any of this research other than commentary or "insight" pieces about development, parenting, rewards and punishment, etc. Can you please steer me towards the location of the references of this research on your webpage? I assume that these are peer-reviewed studies that are available for inspection by an interested reader who wishes to learn more.
Thank you for your time.
Kenneth F. Reeve, PhD
Chair, Psychology Department
Caldwell College, Caldwell, New Jersey
Reply from Aletha Solter
Thank you for your message and interest in Aware Parenting.
The cutting-edge research we refer to on our web site has been done by researchers in the fields of attachment, trauma, therapy, anthropology, and child development. I am primarily a theoretician, clinician, and parent educator, and my goal is to transmit to parents and professionals who work with children the practical applications of findings by researchers in these fields. Aware Parenting is a unique synthesis of this research, and you will find references to hundreds of research studies from peer-reviewed journals in my three books: The Aware Baby, Helping Young Children Flourish, and Tears and Tantrums. You will find a list of research references relating to the topics discussed in my forthcoming book, Raising Drug-Free Kids, on our website at www.awareparenting.com/drugfreekids/references.pdf.
Although I do not normally conduct research myself, I have written a case study describing post-traumatic therapy with an infant, which has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Infant Mental Health Journal and is currently in press.
Note posted February 1, 2007: Aletha Solter's article has now been published. The title is A case study of traumatic stress disorder in a 5-month-old infant following surgery. The reference is: Infant Mental Health Journal, Vol. 28(1), 76-96 (2007).
August 10, 2006
I am 9 weeks pregnant and found The Aware Baby at the library. I can't tell you how glad I am to have found this book before I had a child. When my husband and I began thinking about starting a family I began seeing a therapist because I knew I had many issues from my own childhood that I needed to deal with before I had children of my own. One thing I really appreciate about The Aware Baby is the constant reminder to check in with your own childhood experiences that still affect your way of perceiving power, self-confidence and self worth.
I'm also grateful for the change in perception that I now have about crying. There are many children in my neighborhood, and when I hear a baby crying during a walk I look at it in a completely different way. I used to find it irritating or wonder why the parents didn't do something to stop it. Now I have so much empathy for those babies, and it breaks my heart when the parent walks on completely ignoring their child's plea for attention. It's valuable not only for a first-time parent but any member of the human race to understand what is really going on when a baby cries, and to learn how ridiculous the idea of a "bad" baby is, and how ridiculous it is to think that a baby can be spoiled by being loved and held.
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