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Jayne Havens is a certified sleep consultant and the founder of Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. As a leader in the industry, Jayne advocates for healthy sleep hygiene for children of all ages. Jayne launched her comprehensive sleep consultant certification course so she could train and mentor others to work in this emerging industry.

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Combatting the Negativity Around Sleep Training with Tara Dakin Sauer

Combatting the Negativity Around Sleep Training with Tara Dakin Sauer

Tara Dakin Sauer, LMFT, PMH-C is a CPSM graduate passionate about the impact of infant sleep on parental mental health! Tara’s therapy practice, Renew Psychotherapy, specializes in treating trauma that occurs or resurfaces during pregnancy or postpartum. Tara’s consulting business, A Renewed Momma, merges her expertise as a newborn care specialist, sleep consultant, and perinatal mental health professional to provide trauma-informed sleep programs that are uniquely tailored to meet the needs of moms experiencing significant anxiety. combatting negativity

Tara is also excited about combining her knowledge and skill set related to both maternal mental health and infant sleep to help other sleep-based postpartum professionals feel more confident in supporting their clients’ mental and emotional well-being. This newest part of her business is dedicated to providing education, resources, and collaborative care services to support sleep consultants, NCSs, and postpartum doulas in being able to more holistically promote the physical and emotional wellness of both babies and parents! combatting negativity 


On this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast, Tara and I discussed how to best combat the negativity surrounding sleep training.

Tara shares:combatting negativity

  • That the intense mom shaming that happens on both sides of the sleep training debate is almost always rooted in a parent’s insecurities about their own choices they are making for their family.
  • That a parent’s discomfort with the crying during sleep training is often less about the child’s discomfort and more so about the parent’s own discomfort with the noise.
  • As sleep consultants its most important to show up to these conversations with confidence. When you truly believe that the support you are providing your clients is what is ultimately best for the child and the family as a whole, it’s way easier to navigate these conversations. combatting negativity

Links: combatting negativity

Psychotherapy Website: Renew Psychotherapy and Consulting
Sleep Consulting Website: A Renewed Momma

Blog Post on Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Resources for Postpartum Professionals

If you would like to learn more about the Becoming a Sleep Consultant, please join our free Facebook Group or check out our CPSM Website.


Transcript:combatting negativity 

Intro: Welcome to Becoming a Sleep Consultant! I’m your host Jayne Havens, a certified sleep consultant and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management.

On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.

Tara Dakin Sauer is a CPSM graduate passionate about the impact of infant sleep on parental mental health. Tara’s therapy practice, Renew Psychotherapy, specializes in treating trauma that occurs or resurfaces during pregnancy or postpartum. Tara’s consulting business, A Renewed Momma, merges her expertise as a newborn care specialist, sleep consultant, and perinatal mental health professional to provide trauma-informed sleep programs that are uniquely tailored to meet the needs of moms experiencing significant anxiety.

Tara is also excited about combining her knowledge and skill set related to both maternal mental health and infant sleep to help other sleep-based postpartum professionals feel more confident in supporting their clients’ mental and emotional well-being. This newest part of her business is dedicated to providing education, resources, and collaborative care services to support sleep consultants, NCSs, and postpartum doulas in being able to more holistically promote the physical and emotional wellness of both babies and parents.

Jayne Havens: Tara, welcome back to the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. I’m very excited to be chatting with you today.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Yes, me too. I always love chatting with you. But definitely, what we’re talking about today, I could just talk all day about. So I’m very excited.

Jayne Havens: Me, too. So before we get started, why don’t you just share a little bit about yourself? Tell us about your professional journey, whatever you want to share.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Sure. When I found CPSM, I was working as a perinatal psychotherapist during the day and then working nights as a newborn care specialist, which I know is a little crazy. I started as an NCS in grad school. I fell in love with it so much that I decided to keep doing it even after I finished all my post grad hours, and launched and filled my own therapy practice also because I figured out that since I specialize in trauma, a full caseload for me is definitely less than full time. So the balance of those two things really works for me.

The reason I was interested in getting certified through CPSM was because I’m a planner, and I was looking way ahead to starting my own family someday. I wanted to learn if it was possible to keep continuing to support families with their babies’ sleep but be able to stop doing all the overnights. So the main thing that drew me to CPSM was that its focus is on growing the business, doing this work virtually.

Then after going through the course, I think the certification really served me in being able to find a way to actually merge those two different passions, and really niche both branches of my business. I figured out how to effectively bring all my expertise on newborn care and infant sleep into my therapy work with my pregnant and postpartum clients. Now that’s something that really sets me apart from other perinatal therapists. I’ve had clients that have chosen to work with me specifically because their baby’s sleep or lack of it is one of the biggest triggers for whatever their trauma is.

Then on the consulting side, I’ve designed what I think are really distinct sleep consulting programs to market to my niche. So I have an all-virtual infant program, and then a virtual and a hybrid newborn program. They both offer trauma-informed education, coaching and support. I’ve designed them specifically for moms that are experiencing significant anxiety and depression. Sadly, every mom that I’ve worked with, whether that’s a therapist or a sleep consultant, some of them are all the negative messages they’ve heard about sleep training.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, that’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about today. I wanted to bring you onto the podcast to discuss all the negativity that surrounds sleep training. Why do you think that there’s such hostility surrounding this topic?

Tara Dakin Sauer: I think probably the biggest reason is it is such a divided topic, because it’s one that has big groups of people and experts that are each arguing for two very different views. They’re both pointing to publish research that they claim supports their view. I think that the people on both sides believe that their approach is key to how they define what it means to be a good parent. So this topic is therefore just rife with judgment and mom shaming.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think that, at the end of the day, everybody is just trying to feel themselves in their own heart that they are doing what’s best for their own child. So when someone talks about doing something differently — that’s like the polar opposite from what you’re doing, and all you’re doing is just trying to be the best parent that you possibly can be — I think, obviously, that is really triggering. Right?

Tara Dakin Sauer: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Jayne Havens: I think moms are largely trying to just protect their own insecurities to some degree when it comes to their parenting style. I think as new parents especially — I know I felt this as a new mom when my son was born almost 11 years ago at this point — I was just worried that I was doing everything the “right way.” I put that in air quotes. When I saw people parent differently, it really made me question my own parenting style and the way that I was choosing to parent. How do you feel about this? Would you say that that’s sort of commonplace?

Tara Dakin Sauer: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I think that in a lot of ways, parents are projecting their own insecurities onto other parents when they’re judging other parents. Because I think anytime that anyone is shaming another person for their choices — not just disagreeing but criticizing, shaming, bullying another person or group of people — that person’s own insecurity and shame, I think, is absolutely the root of that.

To give a longer answer, one of the kinds of therapy that I practice is called Internal Family Systems or IFS. IFS has a way of understanding human emotion and behavior that I think is so helpful and I’d love to share a little bit more about. Because it’s really changed how I’m able to understand what’s going on with the mommy wars that are just rampant on social media. And it’s made a huge difference in how I’m able to deal with it when I’m being attacked for my views on sleep training, whether that’s me individually or just as a member of the larger group of pro-sleep training people.

Basically, IFS views everyone as having not a singular or unitary mind, but our mind is divided up into parts or what you could call sub-personalities. Because I think we can all agree. We can be a little bit of a different person depending who we’re with, what we’re doing. We can even feel the pull of multiple parts of ourselves at the same time. If you’ve ever been out with friends, you’re having a great time. You thought something along the lines of like, “Oh, this is so fun. I want to stay out dancing all night long. But I also kind of want to head home and change into my jammies and make sure I get a good night’s sleep, and then I’m ready for tomorrow.” That’s just two different parts of you.

IFS groups parts into either exiles or protectors. If you’ve ever heard someone talk about healing their inner child, they’re usually talking about what’s actually multiple exile parts. Exiles are young parts that develop from different experiences we have growing up. They hold negative emotions like fear, loneliness, shame or negative beliefs like, “I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. I’m a bad mom.” Obviously, these kinds of thoughts and feelings are really uncomfortable and unpleasant. So they essentially get banished by protector parts.

Protectors are essentially the same thing as what most people would call defense mechanisms. These are parts that develop over the course of our lives as ways we’ve learned to try to keep us stable and prevent our exiles from being triggered and experiencing those negative thoughts and feelings.

These are parts that control, plan, people please, as well as parts that judge and shame others. Because if I’m focused on judging someone else getting up on my high horse, and I’m not thinking about my own failings, or I’m comparing myself in a way that makes me feel better, like, “Oh, well, we certainly do that with my kids.” Protectors also work to shut down or get away from negative thoughts and emotions, because sometimes our exiles will get triggered. And so common examples of these parts are ones that calm us or distract us with things like TV, shopping, alcohol, exercise, or ones that connect us with supportive like-minded people that we can vent to and then can make us feel better.

One important thing I want to add, because IFS is an evidence-based therapy for trauma, is that everyone has exile and protector parts. People who grew up in abusive homes or had experienced traumas tend to have more extreme parts, more intense emotions and behaviors. But we all have them. Most of us have very little awareness of our parts, especially the exiles. Because if our protectors are doing their job effectively, then we don’t even realize how much crap from our past we’re still carrying around. And so a lot of people can go through life having no idea how much is going on under the surface, unless something big shifts in their life and it interrupts the homeostasis in their internal system.

And guess what? Becoming a parent evokes so much responsibility and vulnerability, that it does often trigger people’s exiles and then prompt new or more extreme protective behaviors.

Going back to the hostility around sleep training. I think that parents, moms especially, face so much pressure, like what you were talking about, to do things right, to live up to these ridiculous expectations around what it means to be a “good mom.” With the internet, parents are just flooded with information, including a lot of misinformation — people’s opinions and interpretations that are presented as if it’s fact, undeniable to you. Because, thanks to the internet, it’s really easy to support your opinions with what looks like credible sources even if they aren’t.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that because we’ve got experts and authority figures that are promoting wildly different opinions on the same issue, now not only is it totally normal to question what your own parents did or taught you. It’s now considered normal to question what your doctor tells you. Because being an expert or authority figure is no longer enough to be trustworthy. So, to me, it’s really no shock that so many parents out there are struggling to trust themselves when it comes to making decisions about parenting.

Plus, social media means that becoming a parent is basically a guarantee for judgment from other parents. Which combined with not being able to trust whatever advice they’re getting, that’s a recipe for insecurity. And so what I’ve seen is moms who do not feel confident in their choices and to interpret any contradictory opinions as someone basically saying you’re a bad mom. Their protectors show up to try to either prevent being judged or distract themselves from the insecurity and shame that gets triggered if they are judged or believe that they’re being judged.

Some moms, they carefully curate their mom’s squad. They make sure that everyone has very similar opinions on parenting. Most parents I know join groups online. They follow certain people that talk about the parenting things they believe in. While they may say or think they’re just trying to learn and get support, I do see many parents also use this as a way to deflect judgment. Because when you’re part of a group of like-minded people, it can allow them to get on their high horse about how everything they do is so awesome, the best, and here’s why. So sometimes that is more of an implied judgment of the opposing you. But of course, then there are also those who actually go to war with other parents — trolling, cyberbullying, posting blog posts or reels that are just vicious and very explicitly judging and shaming other parents.

Back to your original question about is this really just about the insecurities, I would say that from an IFS perspective, because moms are constantly faced with criticism and judgment from other parents, whether that’s real or perceived, depending on their personal history that’s going to trigger varying levels of self-doubt and shame. For some parents, the most effective strategy they found to make that self-doubt and shame go away — whether they consciously realize this is what they’re doing or not — is to attack the people that they feel are threatening their confidence as a parent. That’s the people who are making very different parenting choices than the ones that they have made.

Jayne Havens: Can we talk about the crying for example? Because I think it all boils down to the crying. I think that that’s what it’s all about. Is crying to be avoided and silenced maybe to protect our own feelings? Is that why we’re silencing the crying? Is there something bigger going on? Why are we all so triggered by the crying? Because I agree with everything you just said 100%. But I also think it just all boils down to parent’s fear of their children making loud noises. I really think that that’s what it is largely.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Yeah, why do people think crying is such a bad thing? Why is it assumed that letting a child cry is inherently bad? Well, crying is a super common trigger for people’s exiles. Again, exiles are holding beliefs and feelings from childhood that many people don’t even realize are still there. It’s going to vary person to person. But I think the most common ones I see are parents who learned when they were growing up that crying is weak or pathetic. It was something that they were shamed for, maybe even punished for. And so when they hear crying, that triggers in them this very old feeling of fear that they’re about to get in trouble. And so they need it to stop right now.

Also, I’ve seen parents who, if they struggle to soothe their baby — maybe they have a really colicky baby, or parents whose baby spent time in the NICU maybe had major feeding difficulties early on. So one of those babies, it just cried non-stop at first. Those situations where parents feel like they’re not in control or they can’t fix the problem, then crying can trigger feelings from childhood that we all have of being helpless, powerless or small. Then, of course, all the sleep training shaming, this rhetoric that’s out there that crying is harmful, and if you don’t pick your baby up and comfort them every time they cry, you’re causing permanent psychological damage, well, now that narrative has created a situation where crying can trigger a mom who has exiles that believes something like my worth comes from making other people happy.

The logical translation into parenthood is that, my position as a good mom is dependent on sacrificing whatever I have to so my baby is always happy. If a mom has parts to believe that, and now she’s reading or seeing this stuff online that makes her think, “Oh my gosh. I’m causing my baby to suffer by letting them cry both now and in the future, then I’m a bad mom. If I’m a bad mom, I’m worthless. I’m nothing.” Our protector parts, their entire job is to keep us from feeling any of that or shutting it down as fast as possible.

Crying feels intolerable for many parents. They’ll respond in a variety of ways. But always, it’s with the intention of making the crying stop or trying to keep the crying from happening at all, because of the feelings that it brings up in themselves under the surface, that, again, they may not even realize that their issue with the crying actually isn’t about being uncomfortable with their child’s discomfort. It’s about not being able to handle their own discomfort.

Jayne Havens: I think that sentence is sort of the money shot right there. As you were talking, I was thinking about, okay, so this is all really helpful and useful information. But we have all these sleep consultants that are listening to this podcast wondering, okay, this all makes perfect sense. But as a sleep consultant, how do I personally combat this both out in the wild — whether that’s in Facebook groups or on the Internet — or just talking mom to mom when you’re on the phone, you’re on a discovery call with a prospective client — and you can tell that they have a lot of anxiety and fear around the idea of hiring a sleep consultant or sleep training their baby all because of all of this stuff: the anxiety and the nerves and the feelings that swirl around, and the shame and the judgment on the topic?

How do we, as sleep consultants, how do we navigate that if we don’t — of course, everything you just said is super valuable. But I would imagine most sleep consultants aren’t going to feel confident talking about it in the way that you just did. They’re going to come at it with a little bit of a different tone or a different lens from a different perspective. Can you help us to bring this down to earth for the average sleep consultant that maybe doesn’t feel confident talking about it in the way that you just did?

Tara Dakin Sauer: Are you asking about responding to prospective clients?

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think all of it, just the general how do we combat the negativity. I think what you just said is super important. So maybe you have a better idea. Maybe it’s helping parents to realize that all of this negativity is really about their own discomfort rather than the worry that their child is going to be uncomfortable. Maybe it’s that. I’m wondering if you have any other thoughts on how to easily combat this negative vibe that surrounds the topic mom to mom or sleep consultant to mom.

Tara Dakin Sauer: I would say I’m maybe a metalevel. If we’re helping parents figure out that their discomfort with the crying really isn’t about the child, it’s about them, I think maybe some of our discomfort as a sleep consultant in addressing it — whether it’s the people doing the attacking or the moms asking the questions — maybe it’s not really about the parent’s discomfort. It’s about our discomfort.

Maybe I’ll give an illustration of how my parts show up in these kinds of situations. Maybe that will help them make it a little bit more sense. So if I try and paint a picture for you, if I’m scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and there’s a post or a comment, and my eye happens to catch the phrase “biologically normal infant sleep,” within half a second, my heart is beating faster. My shoulders have raised, and the corners of my mouth have turned down into a scowl.

If I actually read the post — I don’t know what to say. It’s something like bed sharing has been going on since cavemen times. It goes against nature for your baby to sleep alone. It’s selfish to sleep train just because you can’t handle the reality that motherhood means you need to attend to your baby’s needs, and that is normal for your baby to need to be nursed overnight until they are at least two years old. Well, I mean, first, I’m going to get really mad. Just saying that out loud right now, I feel it. Do you notice an immediate reaction hearing me say that?

Jayne Havens: Yeah, of course.

Tara Dakin Sauer: So depending on the day, any number of my parts might show up. One is what I call my ‘F that part.’ That’s the one that’s just going to scroll right on past until something else catches my attention. Because it’s just thinking now, nope, I’m not even going there today. There’s what I call my team spirit part, the ‘will keep breathing.’ Because I’m hoping to find that someone else has made a comment and reply and that they’ve said something that can make me go like, “Yeah, tell them.”

Or I’ve got my academic part, the one that makes me want to cite statistics or go down a rabbit trail doing more research by getting more data to prove them wrong. Then there’s my snarky part. I love her. She’s very clever. Thankfully, she typically only writes draft replies in my head. But if I’m being completely honest, then yes, I have absolutely on occasion actually posted some very snarky comments. More often, they’re on safe sleep.

But anyways, in this example, I might say something like, “Well, you know what else goes against nature? Forcing mothers to return to full-time employment before their baby has weaned or started to sleep through the night, because our country offers a dismal amount of paid parental leave.” Then I’d say something about how it’s probably a little black and white to assume that someone is selfish for wanting to sleep train, and that it’s really unrealistic to expect the parents should have to suffer through disrupted sleep for years when we don’t have the kind of community, extended family approach to child rearing that we had in caveman times.

So getting mad, ending up with others in my frustration. Sitting here, I’m coming up with clever ways that I can think of to just blast someone else’s opinion. All of that feels a lot better than what I would have to deal if those protectors weren’t showing up, which honestly would be, first of all, really sad. I would get really sad thinking about the mom out there who’s reading that comment. She’s so tired that he doesn’t know who she is anymore. She feels so guilty because she really, really wanted to be a mom. That comment, that makes her want to run away and never come back. I have heard that so many times.

It would also potentially feel really defeated and helpless to know that there are such loud voices out there saying these things, and so many of them. And that even if I could come up with a good response, it’s probably not going to change that person’s mind. But there are still so many moms out there suffering from these narratives. Then I feel guilty for feeling so cynical not trying harder, doing more. I might start to feel like an imposter and feel panic and doubt if I can’t even handle doing this work. How am I ever going to reach my goals for my business if it means I have to engage more in social media and subject myself to comments like that that are directed at me? Those are not good enough.

Imposter syndrome feelings are there for me, because I definitely have an exile that believes that my worth is tied to my accomplishments being helpful, to making other people happy, and definitely never having anyone be mad at me. And so all these conversations can definitely trigger that stuff for me. When a mom asks a question and I’m not immediately sure how to answer it — “oh, my friends had such and such. I thought I saw this article about sleep training, blah, blah, blah —” what do you say to that? So all of this can trigger those things for me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. Thankfully, IFS does offer more than just being able to increase our awareness of our different parts.

IFS also believes in the capital S, self. It’s basically the part of you that’s not apart. Other philosophies might call it the higher self, true self. But ourself has some innate qualities that make it the ideal leader of our internal family of parts that react to all kinds of things. Those qualities include:

  • Calmness – being able to witness and experience the emotion of a part, whether that’s ours or someone else’s, without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Curiosity – wanting to understand parts why they think or feel or act the way they do.
  • Compassion – it truly cares that a part is suffering. Because protector parts wouldn’t be showing up, otherwise.
  • Connection – it wants to engage with these parts even the difficult ones, not shut them down or get rid of them.

They’re all C words to make it easier to remember: calm, curious, compassionate, connected. We’ve all got this self within us. The problem is when our parts get really loud, when our parts react to the attacking comments, or a mom who’s got this high anxiety and needs all the explanations 12 times a day. The explanation we gave yesterday doesn’t make sense to her anymore. Those parts can kick ourself out of the driver’s seat.

And if we can convince those parts to move to the back where they can still offer their opinion or their suggestions but then ourself gets to decide if and how to act on any of that, you basically notice the parts that are showing up in yourself. You listen. You acknowledge whatever they’re trying to tell you, and then you ask those parts if they’re willing to relax, to step back. You keep doing that until you notice that you’re feeling calm, curious, compassionate. IFS calls this process ‘unblending’ and accessing yourself energy.

Ideally, I would recommend trying to respond to these questions from clients or deciding if you want to engage in some of these conversations with people who are being really hostile, deciding if you want to engage or not, or how you want to approach the conversation, answer their question, doing that from a place of self-energy. Because our conversations are not as likely to be productive or helpful for the other person or even for ourself if we’re engaging from our parts instead of from ourself.

Also, two additional qualities of self — also C words, of course — are courage and confidence. If you’re coming from a place of self, you don’t need anyone else’s recommendation on if you should reply to that comment, or what you should say to that mom. Because you will know the right answer for you in that moment, the right answer that that parent needs. You’re going to feel good about whatever you decide to do, however you decide to respond.

Now, sometimes we just can’t get there. Our parts are feeling too strongly. They’re caught up in our own anxiety or whatever that might be, and they don’t want to move. And that’s okay. That’s where the goal is — to show ourselves compassion, to show ourselves grace, and forgive ourselves instead of beating ourselves up or being too scared to say anything to that mean comment on our post, or saying something snarky or mean, or thinking really judgy thoughts, or coming up with an answer that we realized was not the most accurate representation of what the research actually says, but we were just fumbling over our words. This is a very loaded topic. And it’s okay. That brings up a lot of stuff for you, and we’re not always going to respond perfectly.

Jayne Havens: When I first had this very conversation on the podcast, I interviewed another CPSM grad, Sara Skiles, to talk about how to combat the negativity around sleep training. When we had that conversation, I came to the talk with my own ways that I like to combat the negativity. The ways that I like to combat the negativity are sort of what you described earlier, which is that I like to point it out that it’s mom shaming. We’re not necessarily fighting is, sleep training good or bad? What we’re fighting here is like you’re being mean to one another, and that’s not nice.

So when I see conversations in Facebook groups where some mom comes into a Facebook group, and she’s like, “I have a nine-month old who’s up every 45 minutes in the middle of the night. I’m losing my mind. I can’t see straight. I’m depressed. I’m scared to drive. My husband and I can’t stand each other right now,” whatever the terms, whatever the situation may be, you have all these moms. Maybe somebody suggests sleep training. It might be a good idea to teach your baby how to fall asleep independently. Then someone else comes in and makes the comment about how sleep training is traumatic, and abusive, and terrible, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

What I like to do in those situations is I like to remind that mom who’s saying that sleep training is terrible and abusive, and blah, blah, blah, what you’re really doing there is you’re making this poor mom who’s already on the brink feel so much worse. You’re shaming her for even considering making a change that will benefit her child and her entire family. That’s just straight up not nice. Then they come after me. Then the conversation that I like to have is like, “I have thick skin. I’m okay. I can handle this.” But the original poster is reading all of this and feeling really judged by your comments. That’s how I like to handle it.

Now, the reason I’m bringing this conversation up is because Sara, what she said is sort of exactly what you just said. I didn’t want you to go back and listen to Sara’s interview because I wanted you to have—

Tara Dakin Sauer: Well, I didn’t.

Jayne Havens: You didn’t. I wanted you to have your own complete thoughts. The point that Sara made, which I thought was so spot on and I had never really considered it before, was that the key to combating all of this negativity is really, truly owning and feeling 100% confident and secure with your own thoughts on the topic. Because when you really feel truly this is what’s right for my family, it’s what’s right for the families that I’m supporting, you can recognize that other families might choose to make other decisions, and that’s totally fine.

But when you truly believe that sleep training is something that benefits the child, it benefits the entire family, it’s good for everybody involved, none of this stuff is going to topple you over because you really truly believe it in your heart of hearts. So I think that that’s kind of what you were saying with the whole self. You get to really fully get there and fully own it, and truly believe that and have the confidence, and have the — what were the other C words?

Tara Dakin Sauer: Calm, curious, compassionate, courage.

Jayne Havens: Right. You have to have all of that truly to own it in your mind and in your heart on the topic, I think, is sort of the key to combating the negativity. Because when you start feeling insecure and unsure about everything that you’re saying, it’s the easiest way to get slammed. Not just slammed verbally but slammed emotionally. When you’re slammed emotionally, then you’re not able to show up confidently and calmly in your job. I really do think that it’s our responsibility as sleep consultants to really get to that place where we do really own these feelings and truly believe it, and practice what we preach so that we’re not totally destroyed by the negativity that’s swirling out on the internet and in real life as well.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Exactly. Yeah, I think we also talk a lot in the group about having your why, having that thing that drives why you do this work. One thing that I’ve always fall back on with that negativity is, it’s as you said, families can do whatever they’re comfortable with. I’ll support whatever they believe and works best for their family. But what I cannot tolerate is when you’re shaming a mom to the point convincing her that she’s damaging her child to the point that you’re not making her sacrifice her own mental health.

We have very clear data showing that a parent’s mental health has a huge impact on a child’s development far more than a few nights or weeks of sleep training ever could even if it were traumatizing, which I don’t believe that it is. But the mental health piece, I know I’m not the only one who feels super, super passionate about that element of it. But if we can’t support parents in showing up as their best selves, then we’re not supporting families in meeting their children’s needs.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, and it’s a constant struggle, right? Because we’re all sort of swirling around in these conversations over and over and over again. And you really, I do think, have to get to a point where you master it in your own brain so that you can show up confidently for others.

As sleep consultants, how do you think that we should approach these conversations about sleep training being harmful, or traumatizing, or torture? They’re not. We know they’re not. But how do we have these conversations with parents in a way that really helps to get to the bottom of all of this and make everybody feel better about the parenting choices that they’re making?

Tara Dakin Sauer: Again, that’s where I think, on the one hand, depending on the parts of mine that are showing up, I might be tempted to like, well, here’s what all the research says, which thankfully, we do. We have a ton of great research that is pretty clear on a lot of different aspects of this. But for most people, you really got to get to the heart of it and get to the emotion of it. Like, tell me what you’re afraid of. Okay. What if?

Let’s assume for a moment that this process these next two weeks is traumatizing to your child. What are you worried that means? What does that say about you? And letting them explore those thoughts of, oh, I’m worried about being a bad mom or permanently harming my child. Then that’s where I can turn it around and say, “Do you feel like a good mom right now with how tired you are?” The answer is always no.

Do you feel like you’re being the parent that you want to be for your child? No. Do you feel like your child is their best self right now? No. Then they’re able to kind of throw out all that other stuff and tap into their own instinct, their own ability to tune into what their child’s behavior and reaction is telling them — that they need sleep. Their family needs sleep, and that this is the best thing for them. Helping them find their own confidence in that rather than just being like, “Well, the research says it’s fine so don’t worry about it. Let’s just do this.”

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think that as coaches — because that’s really what we are. We’re coaches. I always think like, do I call myself a sleep consultant? Do I call myself a sleep coach? In these situations, I really do think that it’s our job to coach parents to really get to a place where they can show up more confidently in their own home with their own children. Isn’t that ultimately what it’s all about?

At the end of the day, there’s a coach to coach parents to parent, however which way they want to parent. There are coaches out there that will coach parents through bed sharing, for example. Then there are coaches out there like us who will help to establish healthy and independent sleep habits. What we’re doing is we’re providing information. We’re providing support. We’re coaching them through the process of really, I think, gaining some confidence in their own ability to parent in a way that feels right for them.

When you show up with that frame of mind, I think it’s easier to tune out all the other stuff. It’s like, well, we’re just not going to worry about that today. We’re just going to worry about meeting your goals and getting you the sleep that you need and the sleep that you deserve, and the sleep that your child needs and the sleep that your child deserves.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Exactly.

Jayne Havens: Let’s end there. Before we wrap up, do you want to share social media, your website, any sort of resources? This is just going to be sort of a part one, because we have a whole other conversation that’s related to all of this. But too much for one episode, so we’re going to divide it into two. But before we wrap up, share your website, social media, whatever you’d like to share.

Tara Dakin Sauer: My therapy practice website is at www.renewpandc.com. Then my sleep consulting site is www.arenewedmomma.com. I currently do not use a whole lot of social media partly because that’s something that I’ve had to think through, as far as what my parts can handle and where I want to invest my energy. I think it’s really important that we model taking care of our own mental health if we’re going to support parents in prioritizing theirs. That’s something I have determined I need for my mental health. It’s to not be too much on social media.

Jayne Havens: Perfect. I love that. You being totally true to yourself and your own mental and emotional needs is super crucial. I love that. We’re going to be back maybe the following week — we’re not sure yet, who knows — to talk about attachment, which I think is another hot button topic amongst both moms and consultants. So thank you for having this conversation with me today. I can’t wait to do part two very, very soon.

Tara Dakin Sauer: Yes, me too. Talk to you soon.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.

If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode. combatting negativity

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