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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute

Comments received in 2009

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

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We welcome your comments about Aware Parenting and this web site. We reserve the right to post anything you write to us on our page of comments, and to edit it as needed. Please give us your name, city and country. This is an archived page. Please see our current comments 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, 2009

Dear Dr. Solter,

I am so happy that I came across your website. I have a 3-year-old daughter and have recently started using the technique of sitting with her while she rages and cries. It was difficult for me at first to see such strong emotions in my toddler, but now I realize that she feels safe enough to "feel" in my presence. She is a new child. I am a social worker and certified play therapist so this will help me professionally as well!

Lori McPherson
Rochester, New York, U.S.A.

February 12, 2009

My fiance and I just love your first book, The Aware Baby! It has helped us raise our daughter much better. I can tell it really works to use your ideas. What you say in your book makes sense! I can tell our daughter is so happy. All the tension discharge sessions really worked. She's allowed to let out all her tensions and fustration, and once she is done, she just goes on with life, calmly and peacefully, without repressing her emotions. That is a technique we will always welcome with wide open arms. Now we're just waiting for our daughter to hit the stage where we need your second book. I can't wait!

Melina Flores
Richmond, Contra Costa County, California, U.S.A.

May 5, 2009

Searching for guidance on how to help our beautiful four-year-old girl overcome early signs of compulsive behavior, I came across the following article on your website "Compulsive behavior in six-year-old" by Aletha Solter, Ph.D. I don't know if I can express how grateful I am for this enlightening article. Thank you so much.

Houston TX, USA

July 10, 2009

You are WRONG about letting a five-year-old sleep with his parents (Five-year-old wants to sleep with parents). My sister did that and the boy is fourteen, and is still wanting to sleep with her and her husband. Does that cause a rift in marriage? Absolutely! Children need to develop autonomy and learn to honor time for parents' solitude.


Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thank you for your comments on my article. For most parents who practice the family bed philosophy, the children move willingly to their own bed some time between the ages of three and ten years. Most cultures in the world have traditionally allowed their infants and young children to sleep with the mother (or both parents), simply because they don't have the luxury of more than one bedroom. This practice does not appear to cause any problems either for the children's development or the marital relationship.

The practice of forcing infants and young children to sleep alone is a fairly recent development in the industrialized countries of Europe and North America. Many medical professionals and psychologists (including myself) now feel that this early night-time separation between the child and his parents does not adequately meet the child's attachment needs, so they recommend the family bed or some other kind of co-sleeping arrangement (the child in the same room, but not necessarily in the same bed).

It sounds as if you are concerned about your sister and her son. I doubt that her co-sleeping practice when he was little has caused the problem. If a teenager still wants to share his parents' bed, I would suspect that he is suffering from some fears or unhealed trauma, such as the mother's divorce or remarriage, a death in the family, an illness or medical trauma, past abuse, a natural catastrophe (such as a hurricane or earthquake), terrorism, war, or some other major event or change in the child's life. During World War Two, Anne Frank had to hide from the Nazis with her family in The Netherlands. She wrote in her diary at the age of 14 that she was too frightened to sleep in her own bed, so she crawled into bed with her father at night. This is certainly understandable, given the terrifying situation she was in.

For information about the Aware Parenting approach to helping children heal from fears and trauma, please see my books.

July 29, 2009

After reading your book, Helping Young Children Flourish, I would like to ask a question about your opinion regarding holding the child when he is having a tantrum. My boy is two years and nine months old. He receives a lot of attention throughout the day, and I do not think he has any fear of expressing his emotions. We talk about his emotions with him, and he is actually in a very good mood throughout the day. Nevertheless, he has tantrums. Some of them might be related to him being tired at the time of the tantrum, and we now are more aware of this, and try to get him to sleep when it's time for that. But some of the tantrums happen for unknown reasons, especially when he wants something, and does not get exactly what he wants. He is a very strong-willed child, and even when we are creative and suggest other solutions, he is not satisfied, and he starts yelling and moving his body, etc. I have not yet tried to hold him yet, but I wonder if this might help him. I would like to know if holding the child is useful in your opinion, because, as I said, he has no fear or problem of expressing emotions as far as I know. When he is sleepy and has started a tantrum, is holding him still effective? I am quite confused about "holding therapy" after reading an ariticle on the internet, which criticized this approach. I would like to know what you think about it.

Thank you very much for your time.

Ran Shalit
Nahariya, Israel

Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thank you for your message and interest in my work. I wrote more about holding in my book, Tears and Tantrums, so I would suggest that you read that book for more information.

As explained in my books, I do not recommend any kind of forceful holding of children when they are crying or having a genuine tantrum. At those times, it is sufficient if the parent stays nearby while lovingly supporting the child's emotional release (after filling the child's immediate needs, of course). However, holding is sometimes useful for children who are not crying, but who are acting violently or are extremely hyperactive/aggressive. The firm but loving restraint protects other children and the environment, while the closeness and containment can help the child feel safe enough to begin crying, which is usually what he needs to do. It's much more loving and effective to give such a child a big bear hug than to spank him or isolate him (time-out). I consider both spanking and the use of time-out to be abusive discipline practices.

The use of protective force is sometimes necessary, and it does not cause any trauma for the child or the parent/child relationship. Other beneficial uses of force include strapping children in car seats, restraining them near a cliff, deep water, or a busy street, and forcefully removing dangerous objects from their hands. When a child is about to throw a rock at another child, it makes sense to step in and restrain the child's arm. If done lovingly with explanations, the use of force in these examples is not harmful to the child, and it is not punishment. I think of holding as another example of protective force.

I cannot give you any more specific advice without knowing more about your child. When I do consultations with parents, I ask them to fill out a pre-consultation questionnaire, and I look closely at the child's trauma history, discipline history, and the entire family situation. Sometimes I recommend that the parents use holding for specific children and situations, and sometimes I do not recommend that the parents use holding. It depends on many factors.

If you are interested in scheduling a consultation, please see my website for information about my consultations and fees. I also recommend our parent support page, which explains why I do not give individual advice by email, and where you will find suggestions for sources of support.

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