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What is behind that cry?

December 18, 2015

 

  1. Is the world a friendly and nurturing place that I am allowed to express emotions without restriction?
     

  2. Can I trust other human beings to recognize, understand and honor our needs?
     

  3. Will I be heard or pacified and fed instead?
     

I get a lot of questions regarding crying and how to decipher and respond to crying during sleep or wake time. 

What is behind this cry that stops when we intervene? A baby is responding to his biological need. At some point a crying baby needs the calming presence of a parent. Why? Because he instinctively knows that the presence of a comforting parent is the solution.

 

So how would we go about decoding the cries? These are fundamental questions that we as parents often resolve as quickly as possible becuase we are greatly affected by our baby crying.  We are tuned to react with our implicit memory system rather than with our conscious minds.

 

In today's world it all about suppressing the healthy expression of deep emotions, in fact some adults remember being punished when they cried as children (children should be seen and not heard) other remember their parents using food or other distractions to stop them crying. Our intrinsic memory encodes the emotional aspects of early experience,  these emotional memories may last a lifetime without any recall of an event that originally encoded them. They serve as a kind of blue print/template for how we perceive the world and how we react to later occurrences.

The new attachment parenting is great but often in an effort to counteract the harm caused by the harsh cry-it-out method parents may overlook an important function of crying as a whole during waking hours. In our eagerness to persist in soothing and hushing our babies we may be missing opportunities to help them release stress and heal from daily stressors around milestone leaps, new stimuli. Theses are inevitable frustrations that build up and find an outlet in crying spells, providing further fuel for the end-of-the-day "fussy periods."  


We bond through gentle, calm listening and observing, honesty and acceptance - Janet Lansbury from her blog - 7 Reasons To Calm Down About Babies Crying

So what can we do?  Aletha Solter has some great advice to how to tap in to emotional intellegence. She suggests that you first meet all immediate needs, when they are filled if your baby is still crying even when holding him lovingly in your arms, a helpful response is to continue holding the baby while trying to relax. The success lies in correctly interpreting a baby's cues. Obviously, you don't want to overlook legitimate needs by assuming that the just needs to vent.  On the other hand, it is not helpful to assume that all fussiness indicates an immediate need that you can "fix," because you will eventually fail. 

For some crying there is no immediate remedy, and it is not your fault. Once you begin to view crying in this way, you will learn to read the cues more accurately, to recognize the need for stress-release crying, and to relax when it occurs. In my consultation practice, I have found that this approach helps prevent parents from feeling anxious, angry, guilty, or helpless when their baby cries.  

A few tips

  1. This not the time to continue searching frantically for one remedy after another to stop the crying. Take your baby to a peaceful room and hold him/her calmly in a position that is comfortable for both of you. Look into his eyes and talk to him gently and reassuringly while expressing the deep love you have for him.
     

  2. Listen respectfully to what he is "telling" you. If you have had the good fortune to cry without distractions in the arms of someone who loves you, it helps to remember the wonderful feelings of relief, relaxation, and connection that follow such an experience. Don't worry if your baby closes her eyes while crying. She will peek at you from time to time to make sure you are still emotionally attuned and paying attention. After she has finished crying, you will find yourself holding a relaxed little person who will probably fall asleep peacefully in your arms, sleep soundly, and then awaken, bright and alert. It is important to emphasize that crying when being held is not a cry-it-out approach: Your baby is with you at all times, so he will not experience any stress from separation. If you feel that you cannot respond compassionately to your baby's crying, try to find someone else to hold him rather than leaving him to cry alone. Your baby will not cry indefinitely. After the crying has run its course, your baby will probably fall asleep peacefully, or become calm and alert.


Advantages 


Releasing pent-up stress from daily overstimulation or frustrations will allow for a longer attention span and greater confidence in learning new skills. Come toddlerhood a child will probably also be more relaxed, and less whiny or demanding.

Your baby may also sleep better. Many parents who tune in to those cries early on find that their babies are able to slef soothe sooner with less facilitation, sometimes after months of frequent night wakings. The parents accomplish this shift while honoring their babies' attachment needs, without ever leaving their babies to cry alone.

Another advantage of this approach is that toddlers who have cried enough as infants (while being held), and who continue to be supported emotionally as they grow older, are calm and gentle. Toddlers who do not have opportunities to cry freely can become aggressive, or easily frustrated. These disagreeable behaviors are often caused by an accumulation of pent-up stress, or the impact of early trauma that has had no healthy outlet.

As hard as it is when we are tired and emotional I find that if I am able to listen closly, and understand what is behind the cry - it enhances the emotional connection. I believe that If you continue to be an empathic listener, your child will grow up with a feeling of being loved unconditionally and as a result will be able to express emotions and discuss their problems once they trust in your ability to listen. There is nothing more touching than a teenager who can say "I need to cry/i'm sad

 

 

 

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fionabendror@gmail.com

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