Gentle Parenting and the Nighttime Bond
By Samantha Graham
When I was a new mom, I often heard people talking about parenting style. I was asked if I was an attachment parent or a more traditional parent. To be very honest, I did not know if my parenting style fit into any box until my kids were a bit older. I quickly learned that I align best with a parenting style called gentle parenting. This style focuses on a relationship between parent and child that is built on respect and trust. As a licensed counselor, I value the relationships and meeting a child’s emotional needs. When a child’s emotional needs are being met, they can function ideally in their day to day life. This means understanding the emotions of our children and validating those feelings when appropriate. In every stage of development, you can meet your child at the emotion (an example would be saying to a toddler “I can see that you are afraid”) and then build on that (“Let’s think of ideas to help you feel better.”). This not only helps our toddlers to identify those feelings but also opens up communication from early in life.
At A to Z Sleep Solutions, we take this into consideration as we prioritize relationships. First and foremost, we are parents. And we are all trying to do the best we can for our precious children. When I work with families, I want to help them improve their sleep while also respecting those connections. I know that the bond between a parent and child is so important, and this means meeting the emotional needs of our child. For example, I know that when my babes are sick, I do whatever I can to help that little one feel better. Giving our little ones extra comfort when they are not feeling well is so important for that bond. And if some sleep routines slip during that time, don’t worry. You will get back on track!
Of course, parents want to know how this fits into their day to day nighttime expectations. This is a delicate balance at each stage of development. From a very early age, our children need to have their emotional needs met during the day, and with a great bonding time during bedtime routine with stories and songs. Nighttime should not be a primary bonding time, so we can show our babies clearly that nighttime is for sleeping. I love to include an evening family walk or some quality family time after dinner to ensure that everyone is filling their love tanks before our baby gets sleepy. Even with my kindergartener, he values this time to play with us and talk about his day. Babies and children rely on consistency and clear expectations. Keeping a consistent routine helps babies and toddler’s trust that their parents are going to meet their needs. When parents sleep train their babies, I can see the trust-building as the babe, even young little ones, know that mom and dad will be there if they are needed, but also know that they can fall asleep on their own. What a gift to our little ones!