Updated: Nov 1, 2019
It is a common sight, a tired frantic parent bobbing their child up and down on their knee, or swaying from side to side, quietly hissing "Sssshhh!" whilst desperately thinking, "Please go to sleep!"
It may seem like the logical thing to do and it can often work, however there are many reasons why you should never say "Ssshh!" to a baby.
Experts say that from day one babies are learning about the world, themselves and their parents. When they are crying they are communicating; therefore if we SShhh them from the get-go they might eventually give up trying to communicate through different cries and sounds. In this day and age with mental health such a high profile, a vital element of our lives. It is important to understand the youth of today in order to keep them safe and happy; we need to rethink this foundation of experiences for babies.
In that situation it would help if the parent just accepted that the baby is crying, accept their feelings, both parent and child will feel calmer, connected and understood. Babies cry. Babies all over the world cry, there is no magical fix. The fix is to stop thinking of crying as a problem, a problem we need to stop and have never happen again. When they are older and feel big emotions we want them to be able to get those emotions out both through crying and talking.
Of course, I am not saying that if a baby is crying we should leave them and go and enjoy a coffee. Instead we can just accept their feelings, "I know you are feeling tired/hungry... I will help you feed/go to sleep and then you will feel better."
This is a solid foundation for journeying into toddler-hood. Toddlers need to have these thoughts modelled even more. When they are just so overwhelmed by emotions they can quickly descend into a tantrum. We need to be there to calmly say, "I know you are feeling angry/upset/annoyed/tired etc. because of this..." There doesn't need to be a solution, the parent doesn't need to give in, just accept the feelings, connect with the child and understand.
Teenagers who experience this throughout their younger years are much more likely to have the skills to deal with the big new emotions and experiences of puberty. They will have that language bank there, even if it is just written in a diary or shared with a friend. They will be able to get those feelings out, share them, be understood and therefore realise that everything will be okay. They will hopefully understand that life is tough, everything isn't perfect but if you connect with people and share your problems you have more space in your heart and life to fill with joy, love and companionship.