Controlled crying is a technique used on children from birth through toddler years. This method of handling crying in children has seen a lot of debate in recent years. With the rise of attached parenting techniques and reality shows such as Super Nanny, parents have seen both sides of the controlled crying issue. One of the issues with controlled crying techniques is what it does to the child mentally. However, it may shock some families and caregivers to learn that there can be health side effects from controlled crying as well. What are these side effects and how can they be managed?
The practice of controlled crying is meant to allow children to learn to calm themselves. This may sound fine on face, however over time this can be a health risk. Most children who are under the age of 5 may not understand the concept of separation and they may not know how to deal with that separation. By allowing the child to “cry it out” in a controlled crying manner the child can actually cause themselves more stress. This increased stress can lead to the same health effects as it would in an adult. It puts stress on the body, stress on the respiratory system and stress on the nervous system. The end result is a child that will either learn to turn off their reactions to stress or to children that will not be able to handle the increased stress and cause future health issues.
Emotional Side Effects
The emotional side effects are the most concerning health side effects for parents and caregivers. Children who have health side effects from controlled crying will show emotional issues such as the inability to handle separation. The separation anxiety can be greatly increased leading to feelings of abandonment and to a reaction that they must cling to the parents when they are available. This can lead to emotional issues later that could interfere with their emotional wellbeing and development over time. In fact, some studies have shown that children who experience emotional side effects from controlled crying techniques will have slower emotional growth than those children who were not exposed to this technique.
Mental side effects go hand in hand with the emotional adverse side effects of controlled crying techniques. It has been shown that after a long period of exposure to controlled crying techniques, children will begin to regress in certain aspects of mental growth. Some parents have reported an immediate change in their children’s mental growth. Some of these side effects can be language development, turning off mental reactions to parents and others, regression of learned techniques such as walking and other major mental and emotional changes. This regression is enough for many parents to discontinue controlled crying techniques.
It should be noted that there are several studies regarding controlled crying, the benefits and the adverse side effects. These studies have been debated several times over the past few decades since controlled crying was introduced. For parents considering a controlled crying technique, the studies and effects should be considered.