What is it???
The short answer: Not giving your child the space they need to express their full range of feelings.
Let me explain a little more about how this effects sleep.
The long answer:
As women, many of us grew up being taught (perhaps inadvertently) to keep everyone around us happy, smooth things over, not make a fuss, not complain and put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own.
When we become mothers carrying this kind of conditioning we naturally gravitate towards comforting, distracting and finding other ways to stop our children’s tears and tantrums.
And we don’t realise that by doing this we are actually getting in the way of our children being able to meet one of their basic biological needs, which is to express their feelings or release that build up of energy from the body.
I recently heard Eckert Tolle speaking about releasing emotions rather than holding them in the body. He spoke about how we can observe this is the animal world as a natural physiological process designed to keep our bodies healthy. The example he spoke about was having observed ducks for many days. Sometimes the ducks would become territorial and aggressive with one another. However once the conflict had passed and the ducks were back in their own territories they would always flap their wings vigorously to expel that energy from their bodies.
Our children have their own natural processes to express or release their feelings and excess energy from the body too: things like laughter, tears and tantrums.
If we think of our children like these ducks 🦆 what’s happening when we work so hard to stop the tears and tantrums?
The feelings or energy the child is trying to expel from the body is being suppressed. Imagine holding that duck’s wings so he cannot rid his body of that excess energy and tension.
When we don’t allow our children to express the feelings that they need to because we are uncomfortable with it, we are essentially holding their ‘wings.’
I love Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting philosophy and all her work around listening to children’s feelings and I love this quote from her, ‘It’s not our job to keep our children happy at all times, it’s our job to meet their needs, including the need to release feelings.’
Let’s look at an example, say your child becomes upset because their block tower fell down. Your first instinct is probably to comfort or offer some empathy.
‘I can see you’re feeling really upset about that.’
‘How frustrating, that took you such a long time.’
For most of us though, because of the childhood conditioning that I spoke of earlier, we can really only offer a very short window of comfort and empathy before we become uncomfortable with those upset feelings. And our need to smooth things over and make our children more comfortable kicks in and so we tend to distract or fix the situation for them to ‘make it all better.’
If they hadn’t yet finished expressing what they needed to, that energy will still be sitting in the body. When this happens time after time and day after day, that’s a lot of energy stuck in the body. The child’s body starts to feel a lot of tension and agitation. And THAT is what is making it so hard for your child to feel relaxed in their body and able to experience deep, restful sleep.
Sleep deprivation does not have to go on for months or years on end. It really doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to sacrifice your sleep in order to have a close, loving bond with your child. There is another option where you can BOTH get the sleep you deserve and strengthen your close, loving bond.
Of course, this really does require a bit of a paradigm and mindset shift and that’s why I’ve created a ten week program to walk you through this!
Soothing Sleep is open now!
If you have any questions, you can always get in touch through my Facebook page and I’ll get back to you really soon.