It seems that ‘Crying it Out’ is dangerous after all.
The controversial method used by some parents to teach their children independence and self-soothing can actually cause long-term problems such as anxiety, relationship problems and damage to intellect, according to a study published by Psychology Today. “We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation,” the study says.
University professor at Notre Dame and author of the study, Darcia Narvaez, PhD, writes that this method not only causes neurons in the baby’s brain to die, it also creates dependence and stress disorders in adult life, such as irritable bowel syndrome and trust issues.
Critics claim that it is normal for a baby to cry, but Dr. Narvaez explains, “When babies display discomfort, it signals that a need is not getting met, a need of their rapidly growing systems.” She adds that extensive crying, “shows the lack of experience, knowledge and/or support of the baby’s caregivers.”
This is not the first time a commonplace child rearing method has been overturned. In a brochure distributed in the 20’s by the government stated that “mothering meant holding the baby quietly, in tranquility-inducing positions” and that “the mother should stop immediately if her arms feel tired” because “the baby is never to inconvenience the adult.” Babies older than six months “should be taught to sit silently in the crib; otherwise, he might need to be constantly watched and entertained by the mother, a serious waste of time.”
Even the developer of the Cry it Out method never intended for parents to completely ignore their children. Dr. Richard Ferber explains, “I’ve always believed that there are many solutions to sleep problems, and that every family and every child is unique,” He continues, “People want one easy solution, but there’s no such thing. I never encouraged parents to let their babies cry it out, but one of the many treatment styles I described in my book is gradual extinction, where you delay your response time to your baby’s wakings. I went to great pains in the second edition to clarify that that treatment is not appropriate for every sleep issue, of which there are many.”
Dr. Narvaez calls behavioralists who advocate this method of parenting ignorant. She states that, “A deep sense of insecurity is likely to stay with them the rest of life.”