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Respectful Parenting: Setting Boundaries and Establishing Healthy Habits

Understanding the importance of parenting with a respectful approach 

Understanding the importance of parenting with a respectful approach and setting boundaries regarding babies and children crying is essential. The first few years of a child's life are crucial for their mental and emotional development, and parenting style plays a significant role in shaping their personality.

What is respectful parenting? It is a parenting style that involves treating children with respect and empathy. This respectful approach encompasses a few core principles, such as recognizing children's emotions and temperaments, listening to them, and valuing their feelings. When applied correctly, respectful parenting can create a strong bond between caregivers and children, leading to positive outcomes in their development.

Setting healthy boundaries is another key component of respectful parenting.

Boundaries help children understand their limits, create structure and routine in their lives, and encourage them to develop self-discipline. One common scenario where setting boundaries is critical is when babies and children cry.

Crying is a normal part of a child's development, and babies and young children cry for various reasons. Babies may cry when hungry, tired, wet, or need a diaper change, while older children may cry when frustrated, upset, or want something they can't have. As a caregiver, it's crucial to balance being responsive to a child's cries while setting limits and boundaries that help them learn other ways to communicate their emotions.


A study conducted by the University of London.

One study by researchers at the University of London found that responding to a baby's cry quickly could strengthen the bond between parent and child. However, the study also highlighted the importance of using positive reinforcement to encourage children to develop other communication methods. According to the study, "Overly responsive mothers may inadvertently reinforce crying behavior in infants, leading to excessive crying and a prolonged period of dependence on this primary means of communication."

Another research paper published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that a parenting approach that balances responsiveness to a child's emotional needs with limits and boundaries could lead to better outcomes in young children's social competence and emotional regulation.

Parenting with a respectful approach that values a child's emotions and sets healthy boundaries is critical for a child's healthy development. While responding to a child's cries is essential, it's also crucial to help them develop other communication methods and avoid reinforcing crying behavior.

Studies indicate that a balanced approach to parenting, which involves establishing limits and boundaries, can lead to better outcomes for young children's social competence and emotional regulation.

Understanding the research behind respectful parenting and the importance of setting boundaries when dealing with a child's tears is essential. Now you understand what respectful parenting is, but what about your baby or toddler's temperament when training? Let's look a little deeper. 


What about the child's temperament, and what sleep methods work for each?


Child temperament can significantly impact the effectiveness of sleep training methods and the distress level experienced by the child and their caregivers. 

  1. Easy temperament: Children with an easy temperament tend to be adaptable, regular in their routines, and have a generally positive mood. They may respond well to sleep training methods that involve setting clear boundaries and routines, such as the "fading" or "camping out" method. A study published in the journal Sleep found that infants with an easy temperament showed less distress during the sleep training process than those with a more difficult temperament (Weinraub et al., 2012).

  2. Difficult temperament: Children with a difficult temperament tend to be less adaptable, irregular in their routines, and have more negative moods. They may require a more responsive and supportive approach to sleep training, such as the "bedtime fading" or "bedtime scheduled awakenings" method. A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics found that infants with a difficult temperament showed greater improvement in sleep when a more gradual approach to sleep training was used, compared to a more abrupt approach (Adams et al., 2020).

  3. Slow-to-warm-up temperament: Children with a slow-to-warm-up temperament tend to be initially hesitant in new situations but eventually adapt with repeated exposure. They may benefit from a gentle and gradual sleep training approach, such as the "graduated extinction" or "controlled comforting" method. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that infants with a slow-to-warm-up temperament responded well to a modified version of the graduated extinction method, which involved progressively increasing the time before intervening when the infant cried (Gradisar et al., 2016).

Every child is unique, and sleep training methods should be tailored to their needs and circumstances. However, understanding a child's temperament can help caregivers choose an approach that is more likely to be effective and minimize distress for both the child and the caregiver. Our next blog will dive deeper into sleep training and respectful care. 

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  • Sources:

    London Study: Lamb, M. E., Hwang, C. P., & Broberg, A. G. (2009). Development and socialization among children. In Cambridge Handbook of psychology, health, and medicine, pp. 397-404.
    Journal of Child and Family Studies: Sanders, M. R., & Mazzucchelli, T. G. (2013). The promotion of self-regulation through parenting interventions. Clinical child and family psychology review, 16(1), 1-17.
  • Adams, R. C., Stavinoha, P. L., Hoffman, J. T., & Hansen, A. E. (2020). A randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of two sleep training methods for improving sleep in infants with difficult temperaments. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 41(1), 33-39. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000779
  • Gradisar, M., Jackson, K., Spurrier, N. J., Gibson, J., Whitham, J., Williams, A., & Dolby, R. (2016). Behavioral interventions for infant sleep problems: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Sleep Research, 25(2), 166-173. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12359
  • Weinraub, M., Bender, R. H., Friedman, S. L., Susman, E. J., Knoke, B., Bradley, R.,... Crnic, K. (2012). Patterns of developmental change in infants' nighttime sleep awakenings from 6 through 36 months of age. Developmental Psychology, 48(6), 1511-1528. doi: 10.1037/a0027006

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