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How Crying It Out Affects Your Child's Personality

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To say parents face a great deal of contradictory advice is an understatement. You are at once expected to follow your instincts, evolving medical beliefs about child care, and the advice of well-meaning family members. And chances are, all of those sources will tell you different things. Meanwhile, something as simple as getting your child to sleep through the night without stress can become an undertaking that requires more research than the Manhattan Project. Understanding how crying it out affects your child's personality will help you decide whether to pursue this sleep training method. According to the experts, using cry it out may have a beneficial, detrimental, or even neutral affect on your child's personality, depending on which resources you consult. As with most parenting ideas, it's a decision you have to make to the best of your ability in terms of what works for your family.

More research into child sleep training is still needed, but some studies have found no lasting negative effects from the cry it out technique on the personality development of children. In fact, some recent studies have found that, at the very least, sleep training will probably not hurt your child. For instance, a 2016 study published in Pediatrics found that the techniques associated with the cry it out methods of sleep training did not create any adverse effects on a child's relationship to his parents, emotional well-being, or behavior. And, according to a 2012 study in Pediatrics, children who were given behavioral sleep techniques did not appear to have any long-lasting effects, whether positive or negative, when compared to a control group. Because all babies and caretakers will react to the techniques a little differently, it may be difficult to say whether your child's ultimate personality development will be seriously impacted at all by the cry it out method.

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However, not all child care experts see the the cry it out technique as a positive — or even neutral — way to interact with your child. As Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. explained in Psychology Today, babies who are encouraged to cry it out may experience insecurity, lower self-confidence, and even trust issues as a result of this form of sleep training. According to Narvaez, the distress that babies feel when left alone to self-soothe may ultimately lead them to become "more anxious, uncooperative and alienated persons" later in life. Yikes.

So what's a well-meaning parent to do? Will crying it out ultimately hamper your child's personality development, or will it have no major side effects whatsoever? For the moment it looks like experts have contradictory advice, so you can opt for whatever sleep training method seems like it will work best for your family.