Q&A

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We’re having some debate about self soothing. The doctor told us that our 4 month old son needs to learn how to self soothe in the night when he wakes up and be able to get himself back to sleep. 

During the day, he sometimes cries when he is bored and wants to be held. Once we pick him up he is fine and just wants to laugh and play.
I have started swaddling him and putting him in his crib during the day when he won’t let us put him down. At which point he screams until someone picks him up.
Should we let him cry until he figures it out or should we pick him up? And how do you train a baby to self soothe to get themselves back to bed at night without practicing doing it during the day?

  • Comment: My oldest will soon be 14. He was my Velcro child for the first four years of his life. We co slept with him and I had him in an ergo carrier as I needed my hands to get things done. He would nap on my back as I vacuumed (as a baby 6mnth – 2yr) or cooked dinner. He now of course sleeps in his own room and is very independent and self assured. I asked a mom who had kids that were already adults what to do. She said each child is different and if my child wants to be held then do so. That will give them the reassurance that they need to be able to separate and explore. Ironically my youngest had no interest in being held much after being an infant as he always wanted to keep up with his brother. He is now more ‘attached’ than when my oldest was the same age (elementary school age). Do what works for you and your child. As a side note skin to skin contact or holding your child/baby is great for helping them calm their nervous system down.
    Someone once said to me in terms of parenting: the days can go by really slow but the years go by really fast.
    https://www.helpguide.org/…/building-a-secure…/
  • Comment: I would disagree with your doctor. 4 months is too early to expect self-soothing from all babies. Some may accomplish it but many will not. Brain science would highly recommend that you help your child soothe every time. As they grow, they may need you less and less but you don’t want their brain bathing in stress hormones from being left to cry. We tried crying it out as recommended to us for our now 19-year-old. It was stressful for all of us and not effective. Trust me, they will be in college before you know it! Give them all the love and nurturing while you can even though you are exhausted! Best wishes!
  • Comment: They are only a baby once. Pick him up, love on him. That’s what he needs, and that’s what will make him feel stable and grow up knowing he is protected and loved. Our son is almost 14, our daughter is 2. Both kids got snuggles and picked up when they needed it. Every time. The 14 year old is a troubled sleeper, always has been. The 2 year old is independent and knows we will always come for her so we have no issues with bed time anymore. She lays right down and she’s out all night.
  • Comment: Agree with all the above. Pick him up. Enjoy. There only little for so long. Trust your instincts.
  • Comment: Personally, at four months, I feel they need the contact. We started working on self soothing when my babies were closer to eight months, it wasn’t easy! Snuggle then as much as you can, soon enough they’re in high school! Happy Parenting!
    • Reply: us too 7-9 months is when we worked on this with our kiddos…and we now have an 8,5, and 2 y/o who are wonderful sleepers.
  • Comment: I agree with everyone above—4 months is so young to expect self-soothing. Love on that baby! Having said this, you need to do what is best for your whole family— in other words if you need a moment, it is okay to sometimes let the little one cry. But I wouldn’t expect the baby to self soothe consistently at this age. Of course, all kids and parents are different— and thus what works for one parent-baby relationship— even in the same family—may not work for another. Hang in there! These baby days/ nights are hard but fleeting! And a key to enjoying them is not having unrealistic expectations for the baby or yourself.
  • happy mother sleeping with her baby on a bed

    Comment: JoAnn Robinson from Peace at Home Parenting: There is something magical that happens with many 4 month olds–they are becoming aware of their surroundings and want to be engaged in it. Their distance vision is improving and the world is now in focus and very interesting. Our daughter went through this…didn’t want to nap, wanted to be held and engaged. I just about lost it without those daytime naps. It lasted for a couple of months and then napping came back. The advice of your peers is good. Your doc is not entirely off-base, however. Your son may need more support to slow down and disengage from the ‘excitement’ of being awake. Help him get ready for sleep with darkened room, humming one song over and over or using a wave or rain sound maker. Use one consistent phrase that he will learn as a cue that you are leaving him. Try to have 10 days where his go-to-sleep times are not interrupted so that you can focus on the routine you want to create. He may no longer like swaddling. His arms and hands are gaining strength and purpose as his brain develops; some children cease to enjoy swaddling at this age. My children began using a pacifier at this age to help them self soothe, but our daughter especially, needed lots of time in the Snuggly carrier until she was 5-6 months old. Do children need to practice during the day what you want them to do at night? Not necessarily, although for moms who want to stop co-sleeping or having baby on them during all naps, I do recommend they practice during the day first. We’re here if you think you would like some individual coaching/support through this phase.

  • Comment: Here’s a great article on the science of attachment parenting. Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3534157/
  • Comment: Oddly enough, it helps with naps or bedtime if you put them down before they are cranky tired. Singing and connecting and touch in the crib make the crib a magical yummy space. I leave the room when she is happy and return to reconnect (but rarely pick her up at this point ). … Babies are building trust. She trusts that I have not left. Bit she has a happy, independent nature, and each child is unique.

 

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During a recent online class, a parent asked the questions, “What do you do when your eight-year-old child calls themselves stupid or dumb all the time? I respond with ‘No you’re not‘ but they just say back, ‘Yes I am!‘”

This is a great question and we hear it from lots of parents. Continue reading

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If you are actually supporting your adult children who are over 50 years old and perceive that support to be co-dependence, I encourage you to do a few things:

  • Consider what you are getting out of this support – what is your motivation and are their other more positive ways you could get those needs met?
  • Reflect on any ways that your own childhood may be influencing these behaviors and work with a trusted friend, family member, faith leader or therapist to identify those issues and address them.
  • Apologize to your kids for treating them like they are incapable if indeed there are no mental or physical deficits that justify this continued financial support.
  • Consider using Al-Anon or other support groups to examine your tendency toward co-dependence. A sponsor can be a big help and you might find that your co-dependence is not only in relation to your children.
  • Ask for support from loved ones and other trusted people in your life to make a plan to reduce and finally eliminate this support if you don’t believe it is the right thing for you and your children. Make a plan with dollar amounts diminishing over a planned period of time until the support ends if that is your goal.
  • Be kind to yourself in this process. You started this arrangement out of love for your kids and you likely didn’t recognize the ways this dependence might not actually be supportive to them. None of us are perfect parents and almost all of us are always trying to do our best.

This is challenging when you have an ex-spouse situation wherein the ex provides unlimited funds without any expectations and you, as the other parent, are trying to instill some sort of financial responsibility

You are absolutely right about that but you can make a difference if you can make a financial arrangement with your child that is both firm and friendly. Set up your agreement and keep it. You are powerless over your ex-spouse but you can model a relationship with your adult child that is empowering and respectful. Refrain from lecturing or commenting about your child’s other parents in any negative ways. Your willingness to treat your adult child like he or she is capable and competent can be impactful in the long run even if it doesn’t look like it right now.

There is a lot of conflict with my daughter and husband/father and they triangulate through me on all these issues.  I think we should see a family counselor together

Well, you could see a counselor together but you might try talking with your daughter and her husband and let them know that you want to support them both and will encourage your daughter to go back to her husband when she has issues with him. Express your confidence in their ability to work things out and their wisdom to know when to seek a counselor to help. I think that relationship between your daughter and her husband should take priority. If her father wants to meet with a counselor to help him improve his relationship with his daughter, you can certainly suggest that idea. If you and your husband and daughter want to see a counselor, that might help. But it is entirely your job to step out of that triangulation. You can tell your daughter and husband that you will listen to their concerns but you don’t want to be the go-between in any way and trust them to work it out, even if you don’t like how they do it! You can’t really be triangulated with your participation, so send them loving energy and step back and get support for yourself while you watch them struggle and hope they can find their way out of these conflicts. Accepting your own powerlessness with adult children is, from my point of view, one of our biggest challenges.

 

 

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My daughter is postponing payment of her student loans.  I’m concerned about the interest accumulating.  I’m also concerned with her job choice – she makes money as an online burlesque dancer.  I feel like she could do so much better.

I can certainly understand your concerns and because your daughter is an adult, your work will be to accept your powerlessness for now. I started the online class with a story about a famous writer who went in a lot of different directions before he found his way. This may be a temporary direction for your daughter. Try to understand her goals in doing this work and help her think about other ways she can accomplish those goals. Ask if she would like to think together with you about a spending and savings plan for the future. Use an I-statement and get support from friends and family to accept your powerlessness, step back and maintain a positive relationship with your daughter even though you don’t approve of her current approach to life.

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My daughter has a full time job, but because of loans can’t afford to move out of our home.  It’s so hard not to make comments on what she’s spending money on and her decisions.  Any advise?

 

Hopefully you got some ideas about how to structure your agreements with your child about finances. I believe that adult children should make a contribution to room and board while living at home and that you develop the contract we mentioned during the class. However, once you have a financial agreement, I would refrain from comment unless she gives you permission to express your point of view. You could certainly offer to help her develop a budget or saving and spending plan to assist her with reaching her goals. And it is important that you recognize it is she who has to come up with those goals. I think we mentioned in our conversation that it is important to plan a time frame for your child living at home if that is important to you. But just commenting on her spending will likely not be productive nor help her improve her finances… and those comments could easily lead to conflict or distance between you.

 

 

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