In her book, SAFE SLEEP, Dr. Pierson gives answers to hard questions parents are asking about how much attention to give their children at bedtime. How often have young parents heard from friends, relatives and professionals that they should let their child cry themselves to sleep or lock the bedroom door rather than to offer too much consolation? Could too much attention create a bad habit which would spoil the child?
Dr. Pierson tells us that when a child cries, there is a true need for the physical presence and loving comfort of the parent. She explains that in order for restful sleep to occur, the child must internalize the safety which a parent represents. She warns parents that the long-term consequence of letting a child cry may be abandonment issues and anxiety disorders. She reminds parents that the healthy, long-term goal for children is to separate from parents and to become independently functioning, responsible adults.
I have worked with these internal safety ideas for twenty years. Children become more secure and parents are less anxious when they understand how bonding with their child can create a sense of internal safety. Dr. Pierson’s book, SAFE SLEEP, lends a supportive rationale for parents who feel unsure about indulging their young child’s demand for attention at bedtime.
Jeanne Plo, M.ED., M.A.
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor