Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dare I say the naughty words- Sleep Training!

I did!  I did say sleep training and these seem like naughty words in most parenting circles.  Number one question parents ask parents- "How is your baby sleeping?"  It makes parents uncomfortable, lie, make up sleepy tales about the sleep they think they have or wish they had, or they keep the talk minimal because if you even knew what was going on behind closed doors!  YIKES!

What some parents fail to realize is that our children are a clean slate.  Everything and I mean EVERYTHING they learn is from us.  As parents we have so much influence in our child's little life.

When I'm talking about sleep training, I'm merely speaking of the healthy habit I hope you teach your child- how to sleep.  During the night we go through different sleep stages/cycles and we have a partial arousal.  As adults, we might reposition ourselves, turn over, or just adjust the covers.  For children that don't know how to go back to sleep without some sort of crutch or association  (bottle, pacifier, rocking, holding/snuggling with mom or dad), they wake and are ready for the next part of their day. And as the parent- you're not because it's the middle of the night and you are thinking- GO TO SLEEP.  Although- Adam Mansbach did write a book with a few choice words I'm sure we all may be thinking... there's no way our children learn this skill unless we take the time to teach them. 

Here's what sleep training does NOT mean.  It does not mean break out the Ferber method and just let your child cry it out.  Nor does it mean you are a terrible parent if you can't hold or attend to your child's every cry or your child will be scarred for life if they cry.  We are human - so that in itself makes us imperfect, but more importantly we are parents and there is room to grow and learn how to help our child develop these healthy habits.

Many times I'm asked- how do you teach children how to sleep?  My approach with each family is unique- as each child has his or her own needs.  It means I need to learn about the child, the family, parenting styles, temperaments, and the sleep history.  My role is NOT to judge or criticize.  Believe me when I say I have been there and done that.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  We all have the crazy sleep story of how we got our baby, toddler, or preschooler to sleep.  But my goal is to come up with a gentle, creative solution that you and your family can live with and follow through.  But more importantly, I hope you walk away with tools for your parenting toolbox to empower you as you go through the journey of parenting. 

If you have a young child, my wish for you is to make sure your child knows how to sleep. Read a book, talk to your pediatrician, or contact me, a sleep coach to help support your family's sleep needs.  You have to train up your child in so many ways, and don't forget sleep is just one of them!

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