Q: My toddler can be a bit of a monkey at bedtime and sometimes cries for no real reason. After checking for all the obvious problems, I use controlled crying - but some of my friends are telling me I'm wrong to do that, and that it's harmful to her as her brain doesn't understand my absence. But other friends tell me they do the same. I am so confused and don't know what to think.
A: The subject of controlled crying is always an emotive one. Some parents depend on it as a settling technique, while others are staunchly opposed to it. Either way, it is a parenting method that has been used for centuries.
The professionals are also at loggerheads over the issue. Some support and advocate the use of controlled crying as they believe it helps a child learn how to settle themselves, while others are strictly opposed to using it for varying psychological reasons.
With all this conflicting information, it can be hard to make a decision about what to do for the best. So this is where your parenting instinct must come into play.
If you are sure there is nothing wrong with your daughter and have checked that she's not wet, in pain, too hot or too cold etc and you know her cry is bad-tempered rather than genuinely distressed, it is probably fair to say that using controlled crying is not unreasonable, if that is what you think you should do.
Advocates of controlled crying suggest that you leave a child for a few minutes before attempting to settle her. If she starts again, double the length of controlled crying time before settling her, and so on.
If your child is habitually unhappy at bedtime, controlled crying is likely to teach her how to settle herself within a week or two. It is however distressing for any parent to hear their child cry, so it may help to have your partner or a friend by your side to help keep you calm!
Finally, don't listen to others - listen to your instinct. As a mother, you will know when her cries amount to a genuine need and, as long as you do not leave her to cry uncontrollably for an extended period of time, it is probably safe to use this technique if and when all else fails.
Do you agree with controlled crying?