Sleep solutions served here, Part II

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  June 29, 2009 06:00 AM

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There's a sleep problem here but, as is often the case and especially with sleep issues, it belies another issue: What happens when parents disagree about how to solve it?

Question:

Hi Barbara, My question to you is this, I have an 18 month old daughter who will NOT fall asleep at night on her own. She has to be held by either my wife or myself. I have told my wife that though it is cute that she falls asleep on me and I do love it, I am forseeing a problem down the road or even now.

I have put her in her crib and let her cry but my wife only lets it go on for a minute or two before she picks her up. My mother used to let me and my sisters cry ourselves to sleep at night and I don't think I suffer from any ill-effects from it, How do I (we) break a bad habit we started ?

From: Luigi, Woburn

Hi Luigi,

There is good news here that you may not realize. Since what you are describing is only the bedtime process, it sounds like she sleeps through the night, or at least doesn’t need your help during the night. That means she is waking up – all children do, in fact they wake up many times during the night – and getting back to sleep on her own. That means it will be easier than you might imagine to get her to fall asleep on her own because she already knows how to do it.

Here’s what pediatric sleep researcher and pediatrician Richard Ferber of Children’s Hospital Boston recommends:

"You want to make it as easy for her as possible, so start on an evening when you can delay her bedtime by at least half an hour; That's in a zone where her body really wants to sleep," he says. In fact, you may even have to keep her awake. “Put her down in the crib. She may cry but she may be so sleepy that it will last only a very short time.”

Voila, problem solved. Maybe. The real problem is if mom can’t tolerate even a short amount of crying. Here's Ferber's advice on that:

Sit by the crib with your hand on her back, rubbing gently and saying soothing things to her, including something like, “I know you can fall asleep on your own.”

“Because she’s so tired – and the later the bedtime, the shorter the crying will be – this will be very short,” he says. Repeat this the next night, but by the third night, you should be able to sit there and not rub her back. Over the course of a week or more, you will be able to withdraw more and more so that eventually you are sitting next to the door and the sound of your voice is enough to soothe her.

“Here’s the bottom line,” Ferber says. “If [letting her cry even a short time] is something your wife can’t do, there is no point in trying it. Only do what you can do.”

But there’s also this to consider: There will be many issues along the parenting road about which both parents do not agree. Your marriage and your child will be better off if you learn early how to manage those parenting disagreements.


I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
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ust write to me here
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20 comments so far...
  1. We had a similar problem with our son and I (the mom) could not bear the "let him cry it out" method. Well, I finally relented because nothing else was working and within 3 nights he was sleeping great. It is hard at first, but you will be so glad you did it a few nights later.... He is a great sleeper now. We also have a consistent routine we stick to and that is a huge part of sleeping success. Good luck.

    Posted by TS June 29, 09 10:15 AM
  1. Federer's advice is sound! I consulted his book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" many years ago, for my oldest. This will be hard to do - but go bravely, you will be glad you did.

    I have seen this many times since, in family and friends - we the parents are most often the root cause, playing an enabling-sort of role. As example: my in-laws support of an elaborate bedtime ritual for their son was very fulfilling and comforting, until nephew took control, and turned nighttime into a real nightmare. It took about a year for them to finally acknowledge and address it, again following Ferber's advice

    Wait till the teen years. Your ability to set the expectations and parameters, firmly but with love, make a big difference and the issues are much more complex than bedtime

    Posted by Ava June 29, 09 11:05 AM
  1. 18 months? Jeez, give her a break! Anyone who believes that THAT is aproblem, needs their head examined. When she's ready, she'll go to sleep just fine.

    Posted by homelesseus June 29, 09 11:20 AM
  1. First of all, it is a normal tendency to want a warm body next to yours when you sleep. Don't you like your wife next to you in bed? Why would your child not want their parent to snuggle against? There is a reason Mothers don't like hearing their babies cry. It was wired into our DNA FOR A REASON! There have been many studies that show that babies that have been attended to, rather than left to cry themselves asleep, cry less and tend to grow up more secure and self assured then those left to cry themselves asleep. Why do Americans have such a problem with babies wanting to sleep next to them?

    Posted by Patricia Martin June 29, 09 11:26 AM
  1. I don't see any problem here, except with the parents.

    My daughter also insisted we rock her to sleep as a baby/toddler, and we couldn't put her down in her crib or bed until she was fast asleep. Once she got bigger and heavier, she would be woken up by us putting her in her bed, because we couldn't do it smoothly anymore. At that point, she got into bed on her own and we rubbed her back to get her to fall asleep. Once asleep, she would sleep all night.

    She is now almost 6 years old, and still wants us to rub her back to help her fall asleep. We never saw it as a problem and enjoyed this intimate time with her. We still enjoy it and believe that this has made her more secure and assured of our love for her, because of this physical touch. She has always been a little shy, but has grown to be less shy over the years, which I believe is, in part, due to the nightly reassurance of our love.

    Posted by Alex1943 June 29, 09 11:29 AM
  1. if your wife is uncomfortable letting your daughter cry then you should not do it. Do what your family is comfortable with. There is no one size fits all solution to parenting or sleep. The goal is to sleep however that may happen. For some helping your child fall asleep is a bad habit. For others it is a great bonding opportunity that should not be missed.

    Posted by jonathanbaker June 29, 09 12:26 PM
  1. I don't understand why Luigi calls this a "bad habit." What is bad about it? Each infant and toddler has his or her own way about falling asleep, and some simply prefer the comfort of mom or dad in that process. Luigi claims he's none the worse for wear for crying himself to sleep when he was a baby, yet the tone of his letter and his attitude indicate otherwise. Children need and deserve affection and closeness, especially at bedtime. Let your baby guide you, not the other way around. It's not "bad" - it's the way it is. Do you want your child to grow up cold and fearful of touch?

    Posted by reindeergirl June 29, 09 12:40 PM
  1. go buy a copy of the no cry sleep solution

    Posted by anon June 29, 09 01:01 PM
  1. I still have these issues with my 3.5 year old son. My husband needs to be in the room with him until he falls asleep. We have tried everything now we are sitting in a chair close to the door but still in the room! He is quite stubborn.

    Any suggestions? We want our evenings back!

    Posted by MT June 29, 09 01:02 PM
  1. It seems to me that the mother is the one with the problem, not the baby.

    Posted by Michael Sanford June 29, 09 01:15 PM
  1. New from Vick's, Children's Chloroform!

    Posted by Phil June 29, 09 03:34 PM
  1. Wow, the helicopters are out in force today. Alex: Is your husband going to share your daughter's dormroom when goes off to college so he can rub her back till she nods off? Reindeer: letting the baby guide you is so much easier than actual parenting, isn't it?
    We have a happy, healthy 17 month old daughter who sleeps through the night. We got into a bad habit of rocking her to sleep when she was having some teething troubles, and had to get back into a proper routine a couple of months ago.. We lay her in her crib, rub her back and sing to her for a couple of minutes, then tell her gently that it's time to go to sleep and that we'll see her in the morning. Then we leave while she's still awake so she can settle herself down (so she can learn how to do it when she wakes up during the night). Nine nights out of 10 she goes right off to sleep, but if she doesn't we let her cry for 10 minutes, then go back and repeat the process without picking her up. As with TS's experience, it took us 3 or 4 days to make the transition (and it was initially very tough to let her cry it out even for 10 minutes), but now bedtime is quick and stressfree for all concerned, most importantly for our daughter.

    Posted by NEDad June 29, 09 03:48 PM
  1. I get two difficult sleepers to bed every night on my own and keep them in their beds by just doing what works for us. They go to bed a little later, I let the older one look at a book while I lay in bed with the younger and let her fall asleep. Then I go over to the older and lay in bed with him for a bit. When they get up I get up and bring them back to their beds. Whatever method you use, consistency is key...just keep doing it and they'll get it, eventually.

    Posted by ms. bean June 29, 09 04:36 PM
  1. I don't think that the comments about the mother having a problem are helpful or productive here. The parents want to make a change. It IS actually realistic to expect ANY and ALL toddlers (that do not have developmental problems) at 18 months (and much, much younger, actually) to go to sleep unassisted. At some point you do actually have to stop rubbing backs and laying down with kids. After all, you can't be doing this when they're in junior high school, and they won't learn it on their own. But that does not mean you have to abandon a comforting routine entirely or leave them cold turkey to scream endlessly.

    It's all in a firm approach and a routine. Unfortunately, if you let it go until 18 months, it will also involve tears. If you start out on the right foot with a younger baby, you never need see tears. Both of my kids (ages almost 6 and almost 2) have been happily snuggling into their beds with their lovies, all alone after stories and cuddles, to go to sleep since they were tiny infants. Are we lucky? Maybe. But they weren't "born" this way, and they are very different children...they just have the same parents who are a united front. It took a lot of work and a lot of dedication to sleep routines above all other priorities to make this happen.

    If read my response to Barbara's first sleep question (posted Friday, I think) you won't be surprised at my addition. Of course we all know Dr. Ferber is respected the world over for his research and expertise on children and sleep. But I also urge parents to read and consult another sleep guru, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, whose advice always centers around MORE sleep and earlier bedtimes to solve almost all sleep problems. He is likely to say that the extra 30 minutes of wake time would not put the child into a very drowsy state, but actually push her more towards being completely overtired and unable to fall asleep at all. Dr. Ferber's advice might work, but as someone else said above, not all solutions work for all kids, and it is just as likely to totally backfire as it is to help anyone.

    Posted by RH June 29, 09 05:05 PM
  1. Alex1943, do you honestly believe the reason your daughter is sure of your love for her is because you rub her back until she falls asleep? Are you kidding me? I have 3 kids ranging in age from 18 - 8, and all of them are very well aware and very much assured of my love for them despite the fact that I expected them to learn how to fall asleep on their own...a very important life skill, by the way. Maybe kids figure out how much they are loved when you care of them when they vomit in the dead of night, or by the cakes baked just for them on their birthdays, or the homework help, or the pep talks on the bad days, or when they see their parent, soaking wet, cheering them on in the rain at a soccer game. Maybe it's the tears we cry with them when they're hurt, the Ariel band-aids pasted to skinned knees, the countless bedtime stories, that apple picking trip to New Hampshire... the stuff we all do for our kids. Maybe THOSE things let a kid know you love them.

    Saying, "I love you like crazy but after this story it's time for you to go sleep so Mom and Dad can have a little quiet time" doesn't make one a bad parent and it doesn't mean that one is raising children who are insecure in their parents' love for them.

    My oldest daughter is going off to college in the fall where I'm sure she will face many new challenges, but falling asleep, even in a strange place, will not be one of them


    .

    Posted by Ellie June 29, 09 06:18 PM
  1. MT, my husband and I have a son who is 3.75 years old. We did coddle him alot as a baby/toddler, he's had alot of health issues. What we have told him is that the baby animals in the zoo eventually get too big to sleep with the mommy animals in the nest/den, and that he is a big boy and there's just no room for him in our bed. He either sleeps on the couch in the living room or in his own bed. We're trying to get him into his room all the time, but he seems much better than he was a couple of months ago.

    Posted by Jennifer Eve June 29, 09 06:34 PM
  1. We tried every solution, including Ferber's, but nothing worked! Eventually we just let them (twins) sleep with us (get a king size bed and/or extra mattress) and gradually weaned them off it, as they grew older. It also helped that we moved and made up a story that they couldn't do the same thing in the new house, it was against the rules - they totally bought into that story ;-) Long story short, they've now been sleeping in their own bed since they were 4 (they're now 5+). Everything just happens at the right time, I guess.....hang in there.

    Posted by MM June 29, 09 07:34 PM
  1. I still believe that in many of these circumstances, the child is being given control over the situation, and that it's the parent - not the child - who is getting the most out of all the rituals.

    Look at this another way: providing a strong, loving guiding hand for your child conveys your confidence in him/her, that they can do/know/handle things?

    Looks like #17 found a way...gee, funny how making up that rule suddenly solve the problem. I loved to have my kids snuggle in bed with me every now and then! But every single night? Sorry, no way. And I don't think kids grow up twisted if they are forced to sleep on their own beds

    Posted by Ava June 29, 09 10:34 PM
  1. "I have an 18-month-old daughter who will NOT fall asleep at night on her own. She has to be held by either my wife or myself. How do we break a bad habit?"

    The bad habit is not hers to break, but unfortunately your dear daughter cannot speak well for herself.

    It is still possible that the parents who wrote this question may some day long for those early experiences where ever-deepening bonds with their child would have been naturally evident. But, after 18 months, it appears that any connection between the bodily-felt needs of the child will go unmet for a lifetime. In the question we are reading tragedy. Everybody loses.

    There is indeed a mainstream. Its sad effluence is everywhere.

    Posted by Mark Richards June 29, 09 10:53 PM
  1. Alex, it's just as possible that your child's shyness is the result of a lack of self-efficacy brought on by such things as believing she needs help doing simple things like going to sleep. No offense. We love our children so much it's hard to see them want for anything.

    Every child is different but it's important to keep in mind the developmental tasks the child is facing at each age. In general, young children do best when they have a sense of their own ability to do as much as possible for themselves. Under 6 mo's they need to be assured that they are safe but not so much they they get a false sense of need. Under 18 mo's, and less so as they grow older, they depend on their sense of support from caregivers--known as the bungie cord effect...advance/retreat, the sense that they can go off by themselves but they can always come back. This is the same task that causes children to engage in power struggles with adults to both assert power and to make sure they are still protected by a power greater than themselves. I always go by the rule of thumb that if a child can do something for him- or herself, he/she should. That doesn't mean they want to or they believe they can. It's up to adults to show the confidence in them that they need to believe in themselves. If nothing else, a well-rested parent who has a balanced life with sufficient adult time is a better parent and a well-rested child is a happier child.

    Posted by wg67 June 30, 09 12:04 PM
 
20 comments so far...
  1. We had a similar problem with our son and I (the mom) could not bear the "let him cry it out" method. Well, I finally relented because nothing else was working and within 3 nights he was sleeping great. It is hard at first, but you will be so glad you did it a few nights later.... He is a great sleeper now. We also have a consistent routine we stick to and that is a huge part of sleeping success. Good luck.

    Posted by TS June 29, 09 10:15 AM
  1. Federer's advice is sound! I consulted his book, "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" many years ago, for my oldest. This will be hard to do - but go bravely, you will be glad you did.

    I have seen this many times since, in family and friends - we the parents are most often the root cause, playing an enabling-sort of role. As example: my in-laws support of an elaborate bedtime ritual for their son was very fulfilling and comforting, until nephew took control, and turned nighttime into a real nightmare. It took about a year for them to finally acknowledge and address it, again following Ferber's advice

    Wait till the teen years. Your ability to set the expectations and parameters, firmly but with love, make a big difference and the issues are much more complex than bedtime

    Posted by Ava June 29, 09 11:05 AM
  1. 18 months? Jeez, give her a break! Anyone who believes that THAT is aproblem, needs their head examined. When she's ready, she'll go to sleep just fine.

    Posted by homelesseus June 29, 09 11:20 AM
  1. First of all, it is a normal tendency to want a warm body next to yours when you sleep. Don't you like your wife next to you in bed? Why would your child not want their parent to snuggle against? There is a reason Mothers don't like hearing their babies cry. It was wired into our DNA FOR A REASON! There have been many studies that show that babies that have been attended to, rather than left to cry themselves asleep, cry less and tend to grow up more secure and self assured then those left to cry themselves asleep. Why do Americans have such a problem with babies wanting to sleep next to them?

    Posted by Patricia Martin June 29, 09 11:26 AM
  1. I don't see any problem here, except with the parents.

    My daughter also insisted we rock her to sleep as a baby/toddler, and we couldn't put her down in her crib or bed until she was fast asleep. Once she got bigger and heavier, she would be woken up by us putting her in her bed, because we couldn't do it smoothly anymore. At that point, she got into bed on her own and we rubbed her back to get her to fall asleep. Once asleep, she would sleep all night.

    She is now almost 6 years old, and still wants us to rub her back to help her fall asleep. We never saw it as a problem and enjoyed this intimate time with her. We still enjoy it and believe that this has made her more secure and assured of our love for her, because of this physical touch. She has always been a little shy, but has grown to be less shy over the years, which I believe is, in part, due to the nightly reassurance of our love.

    Posted by Alex1943 June 29, 09 11:29 AM
  1. if your wife is uncomfortable letting your daughter cry then you should not do it. Do what your family is comfortable with. There is no one size fits all solution to parenting or sleep. The goal is to sleep however that may happen. For some helping your child fall asleep is a bad habit. For others it is a great bonding opportunity that should not be missed.

    Posted by jonathanbaker June 29, 09 12:26 PM
  1. I don't understand why Luigi calls this a "bad habit." What is bad about it? Each infant and toddler has his or her own way about falling asleep, and some simply prefer the comfort of mom or dad in that process. Luigi claims he's none the worse for wear for crying himself to sleep when he was a baby, yet the tone of his letter and his attitude indicate otherwise. Children need and deserve affection and closeness, especially at bedtime. Let your baby guide you, not the other way around. It's not "bad" - it's the way it is. Do you want your child to grow up cold and fearful of touch?

    Posted by reindeergirl June 29, 09 12:40 PM
  1. go buy a copy of the no cry sleep solution

    Posted by anon June 29, 09 01:01 PM
  1. I still have these issues with my 3.5 year old son. My husband needs to be in the room with him until he falls asleep. We have tried everything now we are sitting in a chair close to the door but still in the room! He is quite stubborn.

    Any suggestions? We want our evenings back!

    Posted by MT June 29, 09 01:02 PM
  1. It seems to me that the mother is the one with the problem, not the baby.

    Posted by Michael Sanford June 29, 09 01:15 PM
  1. New from Vick's, Children's Chloroform!

    Posted by Phil June 29, 09 03:34 PM
  1. Wow, the helicopters are out in force today. Alex: Is your husband going to share your daughter's dormroom when goes off to college so he can rub her back till she nods off? Reindeer: letting the baby guide you is so much easier than actual parenting, isn't it?
    We have a happy, healthy 17 month old daughter who sleeps through the night. We got into a bad habit of rocking her to sleep when she was having some teething troubles, and had to get back into a proper routine a couple of months ago.. We lay her in her crib, rub her back and sing to her for a couple of minutes, then tell her gently that it's time to go to sleep and that we'll see her in the morning. Then we leave while she's still awake so she can settle herself down (so she can learn how to do it when she wakes up during the night). Nine nights out of 10 she goes right off to sleep, but if she doesn't we let her cry for 10 minutes, then go back and repeat the process without picking her up. As with TS's experience, it took us 3 or 4 days to make the transition (and it was initially very tough to let her cry it out even for 10 minutes), but now bedtime is quick and stressfree for all concerned, most importantly for our daughter.

    Posted by NEDad June 29, 09 03:48 PM
  1. I get two difficult sleepers to bed every night on my own and keep them in their beds by just doing what works for us. They go to bed a little later, I let the older one look at a book while I lay in bed with the younger and let her fall asleep. Then I go over to the older and lay in bed with him for a bit. When they get up I get up and bring them back to their beds. Whatever method you use, consistency is key...just keep doing it and they'll get it, eventually.

    Posted by ms. bean June 29, 09 04:36 PM
  1. I don't think that the comments about the mother having a problem are helpful or productive here. The parents want to make a change. It IS actually realistic to expect ANY and ALL toddlers (that do not have developmental problems) at 18 months (and much, much younger, actually) to go to sleep unassisted. At some point you do actually have to stop rubbing backs and laying down with kids. After all, you can't be doing this when they're in junior high school, and they won't learn it on their own. But that does not mean you have to abandon a comforting routine entirely or leave them cold turkey to scream endlessly.

    It's all in a firm approach and a routine. Unfortunately, if you let it go until 18 months, it will also involve tears. If you start out on the right foot with a younger baby, you never need see tears. Both of my kids (ages almost 6 and almost 2) have been happily snuggling into their beds with their lovies, all alone after stories and cuddles, to go to sleep since they were tiny infants. Are we lucky? Maybe. But they weren't "born" this way, and they are very different children...they just have the same parents who are a united front. It took a lot of work and a lot of dedication to sleep routines above all other priorities to make this happen.

    If read my response to Barbara's first sleep question (posted Friday, I think) you won't be surprised at my addition. Of course we all know Dr. Ferber is respected the world over for his research and expertise on children and sleep. But I also urge parents to read and consult another sleep guru, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, whose advice always centers around MORE sleep and earlier bedtimes to solve almost all sleep problems. He is likely to say that the extra 30 minutes of wake time would not put the child into a very drowsy state, but actually push her more towards being completely overtired and unable to fall asleep at all. Dr. Ferber's advice might work, but as someone else said above, not all solutions work for all kids, and it is just as likely to totally backfire as it is to help anyone.

    Posted by RH June 29, 09 05:05 PM
  1. Alex1943, do you honestly believe the reason your daughter is sure of your love for her is because you rub her back until she falls asleep? Are you kidding me? I have 3 kids ranging in age from 18 - 8, and all of them are very well aware and very much assured of my love for them despite the fact that I expected them to learn how to fall asleep on their own...a very important life skill, by the way. Maybe kids figure out how much they are loved when you care of them when they vomit in the dead of night, or by the cakes baked just for them on their birthdays, or the homework help, or the pep talks on the bad days, or when they see their parent, soaking wet, cheering them on in the rain at a soccer game. Maybe it's the tears we cry with them when they're hurt, the Ariel band-aids pasted to skinned knees, the countless bedtime stories, that apple picking trip to New Hampshire... the stuff we all do for our kids. Maybe THOSE things let a kid know you love them.

    Saying, "I love you like crazy but after this story it's time for you to go sleep so Mom and Dad can have a little quiet time" doesn't make one a bad parent and it doesn't mean that one is raising children who are insecure in their parents' love for them.

    My oldest daughter is going off to college in the fall where I'm sure she will face many new challenges, but falling asleep, even in a strange place, will not be one of them


    .

    Posted by Ellie June 29, 09 06:18 PM
  1. MT, my husband and I have a son who is 3.75 years old. We did coddle him alot as a baby/toddler, he's had alot of health issues. What we have told him is that the baby animals in the zoo eventually get too big to sleep with the mommy animals in the nest/den, and that he is a big boy and there's just no room for him in our bed. He either sleeps on the couch in the living room or in his own bed. We're trying to get him into his room all the time, but he seems much better than he was a couple of months ago.

    Posted by Jennifer Eve June 29, 09 06:34 PM
  1. We tried every solution, including Ferber's, but nothing worked! Eventually we just let them (twins) sleep with us (get a king size bed and/or extra mattress) and gradually weaned them off it, as they grew older. It also helped that we moved and made up a story that they couldn't do the same thing in the new house, it was against the rules - they totally bought into that story ;-) Long story short, they've now been sleeping in their own bed since they were 4 (they're now 5+). Everything just happens at the right time, I guess.....hang in there.

    Posted by MM June 29, 09 07:34 PM
  1. I still believe that in many of these circumstances, the child is being given control over the situation, and that it's the parent - not the child - who is getting the most out of all the rituals.

    Look at this another way: providing a strong, loving guiding hand for your child conveys your confidence in him/her, that they can do/know/handle things?

    Looks like #17 found a way...gee, funny how making up that rule suddenly solve the problem. I loved to have my kids snuggle in bed with me every now and then! But every single night? Sorry, no way. And I don't think kids grow up twisted if they are forced to sleep on their own beds

    Posted by Ava June 29, 09 10:34 PM
  1. "I have an 18-month-old daughter who will NOT fall asleep at night on her own. She has to be held by either my wife or myself. How do we break a bad habit?"

    The bad habit is not hers to break, but unfortunately your dear daughter cannot speak well for herself.

    It is still possible that the parents who wrote this question may some day long for those early experiences where ever-deepening bonds with their child would have been naturally evident. But, after 18 months, it appears that any connection between the bodily-felt needs of the child will go unmet for a lifetime. In the question we are reading tragedy. Everybody loses.

    There is indeed a mainstream. Its sad effluence is everywhere.

    Posted by Mark Richards June 29, 09 10:53 PM
  1. Alex, it's just as possible that your child's shyness is the result of a lack of self-efficacy brought on by such things as believing she needs help doing simple things like going to sleep. No offense. We love our children so much it's hard to see them want for anything.

    Every child is different but it's important to keep in mind the developmental tasks the child is facing at each age. In general, young children do best when they have a sense of their own ability to do as much as possible for themselves. Under 6 mo's they need to be assured that they are safe but not so much they they get a false sense of need. Under 18 mo's, and less so as they grow older, they depend on their sense of support from caregivers--known as the bungie cord effect...advance/retreat, the sense that they can go off by themselves but they can always come back. This is the same task that causes children to engage in power struggles with adults to both assert power and to make sure they are still protected by a power greater than themselves. I always go by the rule of thumb that if a child can do something for him- or herself, he/she should. That doesn't mean they want to or they believe they can. It's up to adults to show the confidence in them that they need to believe in themselves. If nothing else, a well-rested parent who has a balanced life with sufficient adult time is a better parent and a well-rested child is a happier child.

    Posted by wg67 June 30, 09 12:04 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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