Mr. Parenting
Crying baby in a bassinet with parent unsuccessfully trying to sooth him with a pacifier

Sleep Struggles – Why Do Children Cry As They Learn How To Sleep

You don’t wish him to cry. For all that to happen, he needs to sleep properly.

It would be nice if your child might learn how to sleep without any crying or disappointment whatsoever. The reality is that all children, regardless of the technique you use to help them sleep, inevitably do shed some tears in the process.

Kids cry when learning to sleep because they are resisting. They don’t like modification. They hate change.

Do you remember what your favorite book was as a kid? Do you remember wanting to read that book over and over again? Even though you knew every word of it?

All of us resist change, kids and grownups alike. It’s normal to do so, and it’s normal for your child to express his resistance by weeping. Crying comes before words– not the other way around.

Second, as kids learn how to sleep but haven’t yet found out how to do so, they are understandably frustrated. They no longer have Mom and Dad on their side to help them get to sleep, and they do not yet understand what to do differently. They will learn eventually.

What’s intriguing about going to sleep is that although we are born with the intrinsic ability to do so, it is thought to be a learned behavior. And yet you can’t teach anybody else how to do it– you can’t just say to your kid to close his eyes and sleep. Instead, each of us has to learn for ourselves what to do to settle into sleep.

Naturally, some kids appear to learn how to sleep practically amazingly, with minimal effort on the mom and dad’s part. Nevertheless, children are different. Everybody is different.

In addition to numerous others, your child hasn’t learned this vital skill yet, which is why he needs you to take a step back, so he has the opportunity to achieve that on his own.

He might kick his legs around a bit, he may gently rock his head from side to side, or he may get his blankie. Maybe he’ll play with his hair if he’s a bit older.

The fact is, each of us has various things we do to ease ourselves into sleep, and your child will undoubtedly find a way that’s perfect for him. He won’t discover those things nearly as quickly with you standing right next to him or picking him up– he will not have the motivation to do so.

If you “help” him, he will cry even harder since the touching feels like a tease that reinforces the sobbing.

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My name is

Dallas Parker

I’m a writer that researches, practices and puts the spotlight on fatherhood and how to be a proactive Dad. Read More
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