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Comments to the Aware Parenting Institute

Comments received in 2013 by email and on our Facebook page

(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.

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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 20, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

I just saw a program on NHK World (a Japanese TV station) about the importance of crying in order to help victims of the tsunami recover, and I thought of your work!


February 3, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

I just started reading about the Aware Parenting approach, and I like most of what I read so far. It seems very similar to the RIE approach developed by Magda Gerber, which I love. The only big difference that I see is that so far is that RIE advocates for babies to have more floor time in a safe space in order to explore and play "independently," while Aware Parenting advises carrying babies most of the time. RIE doesn't say that the baby should be left alone. The parent is nearby, and if babies gets upset, they are attended to in precisely the same method you describe as the "crying-in-arms approach." Magda Gerber believed that babies need ample time to move freely in an unrestricted manner in order to develop both physically and emotionally. What do you think about this? Do you think that carrying a baby for the majority of the day can be restrictive? To me, it seems like it can force babies to go along with the adult's activities instead of allowing them time to play and explore through initiating their own activities.


Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thank you for your comment and interest in Aware Parenting. Our recommendations are based on research in child development. My book, The Aware Baby, cites several research studies. For example, research has shown that intellectual competence is enhanced when babies are held a lot (especially during the first six months), and ALSO when they have freedom of movement and opportunities to explore. So both are important, and freedom of movement becomes increasingly important as babies grow older. However, the Aware Parenting approach consists of paying close attention to babies' cues and letting the babies themselves be the guide. When babies are happy on the floor, it's fine to leave them there (while staying close and vigilant, of course). If they begin to protest and want to be held, then it's appropriate to hold them.

February 28, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

I cannot remember if you have specifically written about "ferberizing" infants. If you have, could you point it out to me and if not, could you say a few words about it here, please?


Reply from Aletha Solter:

In my book, The Aware Baby, I wrote that babies need physical contact while falling asleep and that I do not recommend any kind of sleep "training" or "cry-it-out" approach (see chapter 4). I have never used the term "ferberizing" in my work because I don't want to point the finger at any specific author, and also because other languages use different terms for sleep training methods.

March 11, 2013

Comment received by email:

My sister-in-law has two adopted children. I gave her a copy of Tears and Tantrums, and she was very happy I gave it to her. She said, "I wish I had it before I adopted my children." Her oldest child told her that she had changed and that it was because of the book. It put a whole different light on her children's problems. She will read more of your books!


March 22, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

What is your opinion on Dr. Harvey Karp's approach to the baby's first three months of life? How does his approach work with your approach, or doesn't it?


Reply from Aletha Solter:

The Aware Parenting approach is very different from Karp's approach, specifically in regards to interpreting and responding to crying. We do not recommend Karp's approach for dealing with crying babies. For more information, please see my article, What to do when your baby cries and my book, The Aware Baby.

April 27, 2013

Comment received by email:

I am so excited by your approach that I’d like to get a group of mothers together and have them discuss the Attachment Play book. So I'm ordering six more copies. I even told someone in the playground the other day about you. She had a two-year-old and was expecting a baby in August. Thank so much for your work. I'm certainly going to spread it as much as I can!

Susan Turner
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

May 27, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

Hi, I just finished reading Tears and Tantrums. I really enjoyed it, and it made so much sense. I've been reading some attachment parenting forums, and they don't believe that there is a second reason for crying. They say that letting their babies cry would mean that a need isn't met. And to hold them in arms and let them cry goes against their instincts. I'm wondering if they are confusing learned behaviour with our natural instincts. Could you talk about this to better understand what's going on? Thanks so much!


Reply from Aletha Solter:

Thanks for your comment. Our "instincts" as parents are actually shaped by all of our life experiences, especially those during infancy and early childhood. What comes naturally as a parent is either to do what our own parents did with us or to do the exact opposite (in order to compensate for our unmet needs). Either way, it may not be what our own children really need. That's why something that we never experienced ourselves (such as the crying-in-arms approach) may seem at first to be inappropriate or even harmful. People who remember how good it felt to cry in the arms of loving parents understand and accept this approach more easily than people whose cries were ignored, distracted, or punished.

June 3, 2013

Comment received by email:

I just wanted to say a massive thank you. I'm a new mum to an almost four-month-old girl, and I am also a Dr in clinical psychology. I have read a lot about attachment, and before having a baby I was planning to co-sleep, breastfeed on cue, and wear my baby in a sling as much as possible. I assumed that that would mean a very happy baby.

However, our baby did not agree, and she cried a lot in the first months, as she is quite a sensitive baby. As you say in your books, my husband and I thought it was our job to stop our baby from crying. We went to greater and greater lengths to manage that, as she seemed to want more and more. Parenting had become a great burden, and just before we found your internet site when she was about 2.5 months old, our relationship with her was starting to suffer as she just wouldn't stop crying almost no matter what we did. We were getting angry and resentful and felt like she was rejecting all the masses of effort we were putting in.  Looking back, I cannot believe the lengths we went to stop her crying and finally go to sleep. Anyway, it's about four weeks since we first found out about your approach, randomly through a review of another book on Amazon.

I'm really grateful that we found out about your approach, and we are now very happy with our sensitive little girl, and feel that our connection to her has grown so strong. She is chatting to us all the time and is able to relax, learn, and enjoy life a lot more. The biggest change has been in us though, and I feel the anxiety I had in the first few months slowly releasing, making way for a profound experience of the joy and connectedness of parenting.

Thank you for having made such a positive change in our lives as a young family, we are forever grateful.

Hanne Pedersen

June 15, 2013

Comment to the Aware Parenting Facebook page:

Does Aware Parenting work with children that have attachment challenges, like RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and others? I've found some really great websites that work with attachment challenged children, but it doesn't seem to talk much about the healing power of crying and raging. And when they talk about dysregulation and regulation with the child, I'm wondering if what they are suggesting to get regulated again is really just suppressing emotions. I would really like to have your thoughts on this. Thanks so much.

Reply from Aletha Solter:

Aware Parenting works very well with children who have attachment disorders. Many parents of adopted children have consulted with me, and some of these children had attachment disorders. The term "emotional regulation" is quite popular these days and is often used by researchers and therapists. However, the term seems to mean different things to different people. I avoid using this term because it can be interpreted as meaning suppression of emotions.

November 22, 2013

Comment received by email:

I adore your books. I'm expecting my first baby soon, and I'm so happy to have studied Aware Parenting before his birth. My husband is concerned about boy-specific issues. As you would be aware, there are many books about the "boy crises" where boys are falling behind in schools and are more likely to commit violent crimes, suffer from learning disorders, and have mental health issues. I wonder if this is an area you're planning to write about, or whether you feel that Aware Parenting doesn't need to consider the differences in male and female brains.

a mother in Melbourne, Australia

Reply from Aletha Solter:

We don’t know how many of the observed differences between the sexes are genetic and how many are environmental. The problems you mention (violence, learning disorders, and mental health issues) can all be caused by unhealed trauma. All early experiences can affect the structure and function of the brain, and most parents treat their sons differently from the way they treat their daughters, right from the start, usually without even being aware of it. For example, little boys are discouraged from crying more than little girls, and parents give different toys to their sons than to their daughters. From my experience and observations, boys who are raised with the Aware Parenting approach do not grow up with any of these problems. They are compassionate, nonviolent, and emotionally healthy.

I don’t recommend basing any parenting practices on the presence or absence of the Y chromosome. Instead, I encourage parents to adapt their parenting to their specific child’s needs and inborn temperament, and to be open to helping each child follow his or her interests and reach his or her potential, regardless of the child’s gender. Even if there are genetic differences between boys’ and girls’ brains, that fact should not influence either our expectations or our behavior towards our children, nor should it serve as a sole explanation for violence, learning disorders, or mental health issues.

I have addressed this topic in two of my books: Helping Young Children Flourish (Ch. 4) and Tears and Tantrums (Part 3, Ch. 6).

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