Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Yesterday I saw Leander pressing his forefinger against his lips saying "pssst!" after he put his little toy rabbit to sleep. Although it was as cute as everything he is doing for the first time I was wondering where he got it from. Maybe naptime in the creche, maybe somewhere else I don't know but it got me thinking how well the non-shshshing went for us.

As with many things I would have done if I hadn't met Emmi Pikler's approach to wonderful parenting I would probably have tried to shshsh my child to sleep, to shshsh him over a little accident and emotional rollercoasters. But I didn't. And I didn't miss it.

I read about how important it is for Babies to cry if they need to cry when all their basic and existential needs are met and from this moment on I never tried to stop it just for the sake of it. Of course I have been frustrated and desperate at times and would have given a kingdom for him to stop crying. But by then I knew too well that simple shshshing wouldn't do. Not with a child that has gotten so used to his thumb that I could be sure that if he cried, he needed crying, that in this situation the thumb was not enough. (Another reason why I'd always prefer a thumb to a pacifier - it tells the parents if somethings wrong or not, not the other way around).

When Leander falls he usually takes a moment to realise. I do so too. If it's not too bad he will get up and keep doing what he was doing. If he's tired or exhausted he will cry a little and point with his little fingers to the exact place where he tripped or stumbled then to the part of his body that got hurt. We always need to explain what happened and after a few reconstructions of the scenario he'll keep going. When Leander falls badly, gets his fingers stuck in the elevator door or the toes underneath a door he doesn't just cry. He screams. These are the moments he needs us. He needs us most. We need to pick him up and hold him. And then we still have to explaing what happens. When such rather bad things happen he keeps telling them to us even days afterwards. Interestingly I wasn't there when he threw his room door but had his feet in the way. It was his Dad who was there so it was only him who he told what happened every time they went in or out his room together. He knew exactly who was with him in the situation and who would understand what he's saying. He hasn't really got the words for it but my hope is that once he has - he will be able to express not just what happened but also how it felt. For now we try to find words for him and he nods along sobbing when we are right.

The other day I didn't even see how he fell. But he was lying there screaming so I picked him up and held him. In this moment it felt so right and so true. Simply being there. With him. It looked like he just tripped a little, it was dark and cold and snowy and his huge snow suit is a little in the way sometimes so I didn't think it was much. But he screamed so I simply held him in the middle of the footpath and was there for him.
Later on when I changed him and got him ready for bedtime I saw a little bruise above his upper lip. He must have fell on his mouth. And there it was - the moment I realised how bad it can be if we shshsh a child in a moment we think wasn't too bad or a situation we feel uncomfortable having a screaming baby. So out of this relief I just said "Oh you even got a little bruise today, this must have hurt." and I hugged him.

For me - these are moments of true love. Not asking. Not questioning. Not shshshing. Not hectically brushing the dirt of his trousers and jacket while he still screams. Just being there - giving.
In times where I am back to work life and Leander is in the creche, where quality time is limited to certain hours of the day it his not easy to be sure if your child knows how much you love him, how much he means to you. Leander is not a cuddly child either, well he wasn't, he's getting a little cuddlier now but usually it's him who decides when to cuddle and how and how long. But in these moments where he got hurt or scared I hold him and let him cry as much as he needs and know that he knows I love him. Because I do.


  1. this is so beautiful. how blessed your son is to be raised with this perspective and deep love. thank you for sharing.

  2. YES! The very act of crying is healing, is cathartic (as many sensitive adults know). To try and keep a child from doing what their body needs to do to move through an upsetting experience is selfish. Thank you for sharing this.