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Allowing Our Babies To Cry

When I was a new parent, I believed it was my duty to soothe my child and prevent her from crying. I took crying as proof that something was wrong and that I needed to find the cause or soothe my child so that she stopped crying. I was also highly stressed by hearing her cry and I was desperate to find a way to calm her down.

I learned about Aletha Solter, PhD's work via a Continuum Concept (another influential work) listserv I am a part of. I gobbled up most of her work via her books and website. It was like a light switch turned on. I had thought that either you soothed your child or you left them to "Cry-It-Out" and that those were the only approaches that could make a baby stop crying (I was turned off by Cry-It-Out since it is based on behaviorism).

Dr. Solter's approach called "Crying In Arms" posits that babies and children need to cry and that it is how they release stress and tension. And that they must cry until they are truly "all done." Any attempts at shushing them or shutting down the crying would be detrimental, similar to stopping someone from eating or pooping. It would simply interfere with a beneficial and healing biological process.

This approach radically shifted how I parented and how I coached others on their own parenting journey. Although the sound of crying did still stress me out, I began to see it as a beneficial thing that was helping my child release and heal.

This approach does not advocate leaving your children to cry alone. That is why it is called "crying in ARMS" because you are there with your child the whole time. You are there holding your baby, allowing them to fully cry without bouncing them or shushing them. You are allowing them to fully release the tension in their bodies and heal.

I began to realize how much I had never been allowed to fully express my emotions and cry. And how this has impacted my own ability to release and heal. I wanted something different for my children.

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