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Your Child’s Sleep Problems, is a revolutionary book for the transformation
of sleep upon children. This book is geared toward desperate parents who just
want their child to sleep through the night without periodically waking up. The
author of this is Dr. Richard Ferber, he is a neurology professor at Harvard
Medical School as well as the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep
Disorders at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. The goal of this book is to
teach the parents how let their child self soothe themselves to sleep, this
process is called “Ferberizing”. The biggest controversy in this method is that
Ferber advices to limit the time in the child’s bedroom during sleep time and
if the child were to cry out the parents were not to go back into the room to
soothe their baby. Ferber states that children will depend too much on their
cry for their parents, but if they are conditioned to believe that during sleep
time their parents will not come even if they cry, the child will instead self
sooth and fall asleep. In the following pages, we will go over more in depth of
what the Ferber Method Consists of and what factors lead to children having
sleep problems. We will then cover some alternatives to the Ferber method and
finally conclude with a personal opinion of what method I think is more

            Before we cover the Ferber method
and what it consists of, it is important to know why sleep methods or practices
are so important to families. In the article, The Role of Family Therapy in Mediating Adverse Effects of Excessive
and Inconsolable Neonatal Crying on the Family System. Families, Systems &
Health: The Journal of Collaborative Family Healthcare, written by, Shawn
Patrick, John Garcia, and Lisa Griffin, they describe the problems that can be
created in families when an infant experiences inconsolable crying. A key factor associated with healthy
adjustment to the new parenting experience is the development of parental
self-efficacy. Being unable to console one’s infant during crying may
negatively affect the caregiver’s perception of one’s ability to manage the
role. Caregivers run the risk of falling into a trap of only recognizing
negative experiences and ignoring positive or successful interactions. Mothers with
colicky infants have less meaningful communication through imitation and
back-and-forth babble with their infants, possibly due to fear of triggering
more crying. These mothers as a result reported feeling less connected to their
infants and demonstrated a more flat and constricted relationship than mothers
of infants with- out colic. Mothers with colicky infants also seemed to be less
flexible, which interfered with their creative parenting and problem solving. Mothers
of infants with inconsolable crying described feeling incompetent around
friends and family if they were unable to soothe their infants. Thus, mothers
avoided public situations, leading to deprivation of social support, an
important buffer against many risks. If mothers or caregiver cannot put their
child to sleep, the caregiver can feel as if they are not capable of taking
care of their child. Now that we see and understand what happens when a mother cannot
put their child to sleep, the next thing to cover are the reasons why children
may not be able to sleep.

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Sarah K. Francazio, BA, Amy J.
Fahrenkamp, BAS, Alexandra L. D’Auria, BS, Amy F. Sato, PhD, and Christopher A.
Flessner, PhD, all professors from Kent State University have conducted a study
that assesses sleep problems and how they exert a negative impact on youths and
their families. Parent and child mental health represent 2 posited, yet
understudied, risk factors for sleep problems in youths. As such, this study
sought to examine the role that parental psychopathology may play in mediating
the relationship between child anxiety and sleep problems utilizing Internet
sampling procedures. A number of factors have been shown to contribute to sleep
disturbances in children and adolescents, including respiratory problems, low
socioeconomic status (SES), stressful life events, gender, and age. Additional risk factors such as
comorbid child and parental psychopathology. The aim of their study is to explore the possibility
of the triadic relationship between parental psychopathology, child anxiety,
and sleep problems in children. Mediation
analyses were utilized to examine the relationship between the independent variable
of child anxiety and child sleep problems, particularly explained through
symptoms of parent psychopathology. Interpersonal interactions between the
anxious or stressed parent and the anxious child may be, at least partially,
contributory to resulting sleep problems in children. That is, child anxiety
alone appears insufficient to fully explain sleep problems in children; rather,
it is important to consider the apparent interplay among child anxiety and
parental psychopathology in providing a richer conceptualization of this
relationship. Although several potential explanations for this relationship. With
these factors in mind, a solution needed to be developed. This is when the Ferber Method
comes into play, with hopes of solving children’s sleep problems.

The Ferber Method was developed in
1895 along with the book Solve Your
Child’s Sleep Problems, which helped in aiding the spread of Doctor Richard
Ferber’s new method. As mentioned before Ferberization is the method of
teaching babies to soothe themselves to sleep. Ferber’s method of sleep
training is has developed a lot of controversy over the years. One side claims
that Ferber’s method was their saving grace and others say, that it had left
lifelong emotional scars on the child. Doctor Gwen Deware, a psychologist who
received her degree from University of Michigan, covers what the Ferber method
consists of, arguments in favor / against the method, and why further research
has not been conducted. Gwen states that the Ferber method is not appropriate
for children under 6 months, with a fear of being left alone, or who have a
conditioned vomiting response. The Ferber method is simply, it consists of
putting the child to bed and the parent may check on them periodically. On the first night of training,
parents are required to put their child to bed then leave the room for at least
3 minutes. Parents are then allowed back into the room but only for a quick
checkup, this should not include holding the child, then they will leave again
for 5 min. Afterwards, parents wait increase to 10 minute increments between checkups
until their child finally falls asleep. Each night that follows, parents will
increase the time between check ins. Parents disturbed by the notion of
ignoring their children, and concerned about the potentially harmful effects of
training—drop out before they see any improvements in their children’s
behavior. During the Ferber method babies can experience high levels of stress
during training. The child’s crying, protests, and tantrums increase as they
are repeatedly ignored by their caregiver. As you can see the Ferber Method
does have some merit and if used to its full extent will provide results. However,
if a caregiver does not feel comfortable leaving the child completely, there
are other methods out there that are just as effective. In the following
paragraph, we will touch base on other sleep methods for children.

In an article written by the Baby Center
Medical Advisory Board, they cover multiple methods that will help aid in
bedtime. The first method that they suggest is to establish a nighttime routine
with the child. Before a child learns a bedtime routing the need to establish
good sleeping habits. Putting the baby to bed at the same time every night sets
their internal clock so they are more likely to be sleepy at a predictable
time. The board advises that it should not be too late as overtired babies have
an especially hard time calming down. Followed by the regular bedtime should
include a nighttime ritual. This should include three or more activities
preceding bedtime. These activities can conclude taking a bath, story time, a
lullaby, and cuddling. The next method is the fading approach. In fading,
parents sit near their child until they fall asleep while also moving farther
away from the crib every night. With you fading approach you must also check on
the baby and reassure them (without picking them up) every five minutes until they
fall asleep. The goal is to give them time to figure out how to  calm themselves. Many parents prefer the
methods mentioned above because, they cannot simply sit by and hear their child
cry in destress without breaking the Ferber Method and going and checking up on

After covering all the information
regarding the Ferber Method and the reason behind children crying I have come
to a conclusion. The first thing I want to address is the Ferber Method and the
act of completely leaving the child alone. As far as history can tell, leaving
a child alone to cry disrupts our instincts as human. When threats were present
during sleep, watch duties were established to ensure no one was in harm or
distressed while sleeping. As mentioned before, many parents fail at the Ferber
Method and cannot go through all the way. This may be because of the fact that
the Ferber Method inquires caregiver to go against their primal instincts. The
method that I deemed most appropriate is establishing a nighttime routine with
the child. This method is effective and helps the child settle down before
going to bed. Having a bedtime routine is a very personal process and
individual to a family’s traditions. A caregiver can customize it in whatever
way they choose which than creates a special time before bed with their child.
When a bedtime routine is set, the child will begin to associate the things the
caregiver does in the routine with going to sleep. Bedtime routines help
children calm down and relax before they are ready for bed. Overall, even
though the Ferber Method can be effective the means to get there are too harsh
for parents, alternatives to sleep method are out there and provide benefits in
creating close ties between child and caregiver.

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