You’ll have to pardon my lackadaisical ways. If I were a better reporter I would have gathered all my sources, cited them, maybe even added little footnotes to the end of my blog. Unfortunately for you, you’ll just have to trust that I did a lot of research and reading before making this decision.
My arguments are these:
• When one leaves their little one to cry alone their bodies are quickly filled with hormones (stress hormone, cortisol, and with adrenaline). When these hormones continually fill the baby’s under-developed brain tissue, nerves inside the baby’s brain will not form their usual connections with other nerves and will deteriorate instead. What that translates to is permanent structural and functional change in regions of the brain.
• Children left to cry were found ten times more likely to have ADHD, show poor school performance, and display antisocial behavior.
• Infants that cried for long periods of time in the first three months of their lives showed IQ scores nine points lower than their peers at 5 years of age. Their fine motor development was also not as good as their peers who had not experienced prolonged crying. Prolonged crying in infants also resulted in increased blood pressure in the brain and decreased brain oxygenation.
• Extended periods of crying can lead to a child vomiting and, without an adult nearby to help the child, may lead to that child dying of suffocation.
To be fair, I must note here that it is unclear whether such damage is caused by allowing your child to cry it out for sleep training or if the damage is only caused by extensive crying caused by abuse and neglect.
What *is* clear is that the way a parent responds to his or her child shapes the child’s brain, particularly the areas that control the child’s emotional well-being and ability for attachment. A parent is a child’s safe haven from the world while he or she is learning his or her way around that world.
That was the scientific part of my argument. The next part of my argument stems purely from the emotional (and sometimes irrational) part of me.
I can’t help but think of this scenario: if I was two feet tall, depended entirely on another human being for every.single.need I have from feeding myself to cleaning myself, and my only form of communication is crying, I would likely want attention at night when I’m suddenly left alone. What if something happened? What if I needed something? I would probably be crying for someone to come see me as well.
Now take this a step further . . . At two feet tall I would just barely be grasping the concept of object permanence. And – if I do understand object permanence and I know my mom will be back to get me, exactly why has she not come to get me yet? If I’m crying because I’m alone and scared and just want company and no one comes to get me I’m going to feel abandoned. It wouldn’t be long before I would distrust my mother because I would stop expecting her to come to me when I needed her. My mom may think my reasons for wanting her with me are silly, but I sure don’t – I take those emotions seriously. And yes – I may eventually stop crying, but it won’t be because I’ve been able to reason that everything is ok. I will eventually stop crying because I give up and realize that no matter how much I cry, Mama’s not coming back.
The thought of Tori stopping her crying, in exhaustion, because she’s realized her mother won’t always be there for her makes my heart drop. I can’t do that to her. I want her to understand that as long as I can be, I will always be there for her, no matter what she needs.
Crying it out does not teach my daughter the lesson I want her to learn.
Besides, she’ll only be a little girl for a little while. This is a time I want to cherish.