Have you ever let your emotions get the best of you and yelled at your child?
I’m sheepishly raising my hand over here.
Not proud of it though, because I know I’m a better parent when I keep my cool. It’s the total opposite of that wonderful feeling I get when I manage to resolve a situation through a calm, rational analysis of the problem, followed up by a few suggestions on how to solve it. My child quickly settles down and starts considering the potential solutions I’ve offered, and before you know it, the situation is completely under control.
Aren’t those moments just the best? Like a superpower you deserve a cape for!
There’s a lot to be said for keeping calm around our children, and it goes well beyond making us feel like we’re good parents.
A 2014 study in Psychological Science, conducted jointly between researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and New York University, separated mothers and their infants for a brief period of time, then exposed the mothers to some mild negative stressors. Upon being reunited with their babies, the infants embodied the same negative stress their mothers had experienced. It’s not known exactly how those emotions were transferred, but even without being exposed to the stressor itself, the infants sensed that their mother was stressed and emulated those emotions.
Another study from the University of California, Riverside in 2018, showed that parents who remained calm while helping their kids undertake a frustrating laboratory challenge helped their kids to stay calm and focused as well.
So where am I going with this? It means that whether you’re stressed or calm, you’re probably passing those feelings onto your little one. Your emotions are, quite literally, contagious.
Now, stress is a part of a parent’s life. There’s no avoiding it. Unless we’re blessed with some kind of superpower, we’re going to go off on our kids once in a while. I’m not suggesting you should beat yourself up in those moments, only that we should strive to minimize them. We should always be aspiring towards those superpower moments.
As a seasoned Sleep Consultant who has worked with hundreds of parents one-on-one, I’ve seen the difference in sleep outcomes when the parents are calm/confident vs. frustrated/anxious/stressed when making changes to their child’s sleep. Heck, I have even seen a slight improvement when parents simply book a call with me! They relax a bit because they are going to talk to me, and low and behold, their child’s sleep improves a bit. But don’t be fooled, real changes have to happen in order to solve most sleep issues.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably looking for answers to help with sleep training your child. Which means you’re already sleep-deprived, and when we’re not getting enough sleep, we’re short-tempered, easily agitated, and more likely to raise your voice and give in to feelings of frustration. In short, you’re likely to be a little bit stressed out, and as we’ve seen, that stress permeates our kids, which stresses them out, which cranks up cortisol production, and there you have it. You’ve barely gotten started and already sabotaging any success.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but before you even start the process of teaching your baby/child to fall asleep independently, I recommend you get yourself into a headspace where you commit to yourself that, no matter how tough things get, you’re going to try your absolute hardest to stay calm. Practice some deep breathing exercises, meditate, do a little yoga, or anything else you can think of to put you into a calm, tolerant, accepting state of mind.
If you’re working with a spouse/partner, I suggest you do all of this together and discuss ahead of time who’s taking what shift so there’s no arguing during the night. And remember, if things go as expected, most babies start showing huge improvement by around night three, so relief is just on the other side of that hill.
And when the dust settles and your little one is sleeping through the night, and you managed to get through the process without giving in to feelings of frustration and guilt, you’re going to feel like you just won the World Parenting Championship. Now you just need to decide on what color your cape should be. Decisions, decisions.
Sleep-filled nights are right around the corner! So, have a plan, be patient, be calm, and it’ll all be behind you soon.
Ready to go from frustrated and exhausted to calm/confident and well-rested? Let’s chat! Set-up a free 15-minute sleep evaluation today.
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