Friday, 23 December 2011

teaching fear

I took my 22 month old to see Santa last week. Last year she cried when she saw him so I knew it might not be a good reaction this time. She seamed ok when he can in to the room , but when I asked hr if she wanted to go to him she said " no afraid" and started to cry. Of course I reassured her and told her I was there and there was nothing to be afraid of. In the end she was happy to stand near to Santa with me but not go to him on her own.
What shocked me about this was not that she was afraid of sitting on the knee of a fat man that she did not know with a beard - if anything I thought she would be unsettled by this, it was that she knew the word "afraid" and used it in context.
As the mother of a young toddler I don't want her to be knowledgeable enough about negative emotions to be able to articulate them. I feel, and I'm sure most parents will agree, part of my job is to stop her coming across these feelings which she will have plenty of time to deal with when she is older.
Yet time and time again if I mention that we are lucky if my daughter managers 4 hours sleep I am advised to let her " cry it out".
I'm sure most of you will have read analogies such as just let her cry
The idea of being afraid and alone and knowing that sometimes there is no one to help you is something that as adults we will at some time have to face. It takes a lot to come to terms with it, its a feeling I remember when my dad died suddenly when I was 19 and I couldn't turn to my close family as normal because they had their own grief to deal with.
It is not a feeling a child should have to come across if it can be avoided.
While lack of sleep can be a horrible feeling for anyone ( I speak from experience of 22 month at a 4 hour block being a bonus, I'm writing this at 2am my daughter having gone to sleep at 1.30)surely it is something that can be enured a short time instead of teaching our babies to be afraid.

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