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Aware Baby followup

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We've had a lot of discussion of Alethea Solter's Aware Baby theories in different forums. Basically the idea is that crying to a sympathetic, loving ear allows babies and children to vent their stresses.

I haven't followed Solter's advice to the letter, but it has been my practice to sort of converse with Dd when she is upset, and as she's gotten more communicative with signs at first, and now words, she can explain why she's crying. Like she'll sign that she was up on the chair and fell down and hit her chin. We'll talk about it, and she'll quickly move on and return to playing. I rarely use distraction with her and I don't say Don't Cry. I see other parents do this and they usually seem to have a bag full of toys and stuffed animals, and when their child cries, they pull something out of the bag and wave it around, and often, the child does stop crying.

Well not only do I not believe that approach is right for us, but I can barely remember to pack an extra diaper when we leave the house, much less grab a trunk of toys. So it's just Dd and me and we have to cope when she's upset.

Today we returned from a trip out of town. Dd dislikes riding in her carseat in a taxi, and cried horribly when we put her in. I slid in next to her, said a few things that didn't help, stroked her face, and finally said, "we're going to the airport, we're going to get on a plane and go home."

"Home!" she said, and signed for airplane. She did not cry at all after that. We talked about what we would do at home. Lunch, nurse, nap...she was happy for the rest of the trip.

I think my perseverence with taking the time to talk over most every cry (fortunately Dd doesn't cry very often or it might not have been possible), has paid off in that now she responds really well to verbal explanations. She knows when she is crying that we can talk things out, and she isn't looking for me to wave around a stuffed animal (that I would have left home in the first place).
post #2 of 11

Bit of both.

I always talk to my dds about why they're crying and let them express themselves. However, dd1 has always had a blankie (and I don't think that being attached to her blankie means that she's not attached to me) and dd2 is comforted by her bottle. Mind you both of them like their 'thing' in conjunction with me. They are mostly used as comfort when they are over-tired or over-stimulated, situations where they are beyond talking/communicating their feelings. This rarely happens with dd1 now that she is 4 and VERY expressive, but occassionally after a crazy, busy day it does come down to that. Also, I know a lot of AP parents on this board don't leave their children, but there have been times when I have had to leave one or the other and having something that they are used to as a comfort object is handy when they are without me and with someone who may not understand them as well as I do.

My two cents.

Peace.
post #3 of 11
I haven't read the book, but there are two things that make what Curious wrote really ring true to me.

First, I do remember when I was little and would be upset, like say I bumped my head on the coffee table, my Dad would try to laugh it off, and say things like "oooh, look, you dented the table!". I know he meant well, he was trying to make me laugh, but I remember hating that he did that. I wanted a hug, and some comfort, not to be "distracted".

Second, I am reading a wonderful book about communicating with your children, and one of the strong points is that you should validate your children's emotions rather than tell them what they should and shouldn't be feeling. So, if your child is crying because she wants to play with a certain object that is not safe, instead of saying something like "well, sometimes you just can't have what you want, you're going to have to deal with that" you might say "I know it's upsetting when we want to play with something and we can't, but I think that object is unsafe for you" and then comfort them with sympathy.

My example may be kind of lame since I'm still dealing with a baby, but the point is: when you tell your children what they should and shouldn't feel (like distracting them from being upset gives them the message that they shouldn't be upset) you are not treating them as an individual and not just an extension of yourself.

I'm going to take your suggestions, Curious. I like them!
post #4 of 11
I still need a lot of improvement in this area. My tendency is still toward distraction. I think it's because any time I've ever tried to validate Chase's feelings like that, I have gotten "she has lost her mind" looks from people around me, including my parents and in-laws. I have to remember that that's because there are a lot of lazy parents in the world who would never even think of *gasp* talking to their babies.

I'm going to keep working on it and hope it will get easier as he gets older.
post #5 of 11
My kids always come to me with any hurt and I kiss it. We tend to briefly talk about the hurt. How and why it happened. This is all they need. Most times the tears dry up and they are on their way back to play. It always amazes me when peolpe don't "listen" to a child's cries and just brush them off. I can't stand it when peolpe tell my 19 mos old babies " oh you're alright". They would'nt be crying if they were alright.
Julianne
post #6 of 11
I think your approach is wonderful, and I'm curious to read that book!

I tend to use a combination of "validation" and distraction with dd, even to this day (she's four). I've always been aware that her feelings need to be acknowledged and sometimes discussed, and I, too, have gotten strange looks from people who overhear me saying things like, "Oh, sweetie, you fell and bumped your head, ouch, that does hurt a lot, doesn't it?" rather than the typical, "Okay, you're okay, it's just a bump, you're fine..." But I do find that once that is done, a change of subject works wonders as well, especially for my daughter, who has a tendency to relive a bad moment over and over, even after it seems she has recovered.

So what I usually do is acknowledge the feeling and let her describe it to me, and we talk for a minute or two and let her cry if she needs to, and then I move on to something else. That way she gets the message that her feelings are important and real, but that everything doesn't have to be a huge tragedy!
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally posted by Piglet68
"I know it's upsetting when we want to play with something and we can't, but I think that object is unsafe for you" and then comfort them with sympathy.
I just read "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" and they talk allot about validating feelings BUT we should leave out the "but". They even have a section entitled "Alternatives to But". "The word 'but' tends to dismiss, diminish, or erase all that went before." I have been catching myself saying 'but' all the time BUT if I stop myself before it comes out my DS is more likely to talk about his feelings. I think the 'but' shuts that down.

Also distraction is a great tool for babies but older toddlers should be dealing with this stuff not just having it swept away for them. But these habits are hard to break sometimes!
post #8 of 11
I agree Curious.
And Liz, I do find the BUT hard to get rid of, must re-read that book, because I had forgotten the BIG BUT.
Just as an aside. My dd's go to day care. I usually work at 0900. I take the 8 yr old to school, hang out on the playground until the bell rings, then dd age 3, and I go to her day care. I still have about 45 minutes before I have to be at work. So I frequently get to hang out at day care for awhile. Her pals do what I call, "The parade of Owie's". They all come over and show me the latest owie for me to fuss over. Even if it is not there anymore, I always say, "ohh that must of hurt" or something. They love to have their little (and big) owies validated. I wonder if they don't get validation for owie's at day care, Claire always tells me she gets held and comforted if she gets hurt, but maybe not all do...
post #9 of 11
Liz - you are right, and even as I was typing that I was thinking the same thing. Probably didn't choose the right example, or maybe should have thought it through more.

carmen - cute story, you're the "owie fairy", lol
post #10 of 11
interesting thread!

I wanted to add that I think this idea of validating crying & sadness/fear type emotions (rather than distracting) is ESPECIALLY important for boys. Not that it isn't important for girls, but I think that as a society we are 'more' lenient with girls' tears/sadness/fear than with boys'.

I'm reading "Real Boys" and he talks about this very thing... studies showing that parents have a tendency to decribe boys' tears & emotions as anger or frustration ("acceptable" emotions for boys) rather than sadness, fear, disappointment, vulnerability etc and don't bother to ASK boys to describe their own emotions..... give boys LESS time to cry than girls before bringing out the distraction tricks and "you're okay"s...... parents of boys tend to smile at boys while they are crying (giving the message that the boy *should* be happy) while mimicking girls' facial expressions.

So it comes as no surprise that so many men have trouble crying and are out of touch with their emotions! They've been conditioned from birth to not have their emotions validated!
post #11 of 11
Very good point, QuinsMami. I've been meaning to read that book.

Carmen - it is almost magical how well it works. I do it with my nieces and it ends the crying almost immediately where with their mother it will go on and on. She will comfort them but then can't resist adding "that's why you shouldn't jump on the bed." My dh does this, too. Now I have to figure out how to tell them this brilliant discovery without sounding like a nag (dh) or a know it all (SIL)!
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