Does your child know how to self soothe?




Does your toddler carry a blankie, dummy, or stuffie? Or all of the above? Have you observed your child gets distressed when one of their coveted stuff goes missing? Can’t your toddler sleep without them? Read on.

One of my friends who gave birth recently told me that her son won’t even take a dummy and has no preference for a cuddly toy. I told her, that is alright you have nothing to worry about. She looked at me, bewildered, and asked, “Don’t they need a cuddly? I thought they needed to have something.” Aha, welcome to commercialism. The Ads and other marketing ploys which convince parents their children need it. Wrong.

Parents use a variety of soothing techniques with their children such as singing, giving them a cuddle, rocking, swaddling or even just a change of scenery. Children cry for a variety of reasons because that is their primary form of communication.

Successful soothing reinforces parents to continue to use specific soothing techniques that calm the infant. This process boosts parents’ confidence, creates a growing sense of trust within the infant, and sets the foundation for the establishment of positive parent-infant relationships.  –
(Hush Now Baby: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Strategies for Soothing Their Infants and Associated Parenting Outcomes Carolyn Joy Dayton, MSW, PhD, Tova B. Walsh, MSW, PhD, Wonjung Oh, PhD, and Brenda Volling, PhD)

It’s heartbreaking to see a toddler who’s confused, agitated and tensed whenever they are confronted with an unfamiliar situation. You see, children are very resilient, but we can become an obstacle to that. We need to reassure them that we are here for them.

At preschool or daycare, I have encountered numerous toddlers who are finding it hard to adjust and build trust with adults in the environment. Yes, the first few weeks are an adjustment period for them, but it’s very important for children to feel comfortable with the environment, that they can trust the Educators, and their hands are free to play.

I have observed that children who are so attached to their possession are

  • finding it hard to trust the Educators
  • unable to occupy themselves with activities because their hands are not free (cuddling to their toy)
  • unable to regulate themselves

When Educators started to implement the no dummy/soft toys in the classroom, it transformed into a different environment. Of course, in the first few weeks children were in a “withdrawal state” but just after a week, things have started to pick up. Like what I mentioned, children are resilient. The classroom became peaceful and calm as children are connecting with Educators, playing with other children, and fully engaged in the environment.

It is very important for our children to learn how to soothe themselves, especially at a very young age as they carry it into adulthood.

The more time a baby spends with a pacifier, the more likely it will be incorporated
into their body scheme – a mental image of their body in space, built in that first year
of life. Neurologically speaking, they may start to feel ‘incomplete’ or simply uneasy
without something in their mouth. Gradually that great function of the mouth, which
is to be the gateway for expression of the human soul, can become secondary to a
need for oral gratification. Psychologically, the attitude can shift from feeling that one 
has something meaningful to contribute, to feeling that one is here to consume. 

On The Use of Pacifier

Judi Orion and Paul Pillai (AMI Montessori Trainer/Teachers)


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