Many parents have different beliefs when it comes to allowing their children to cry it out. The term means different things to different people. Some believe that babies should cry until they exhaust themselves, when it comes to a battle of wills between the child and the parent. Others believe that it should only be used to a certain extent, while some people don't believe in it at all, feeling that it affects your child's self confidence, security and self esteem in the future.
A typical example is getting your child to sleep through the night. You put your baby to bed in their crib and, at some point, they begin to cry. A lot of parents implement an extinction method of letting the child "cry it out." Instead of running to their child's whimper, they allow the child to see that their mom or dad is not going to jump every single time, and this signals that it really is bedtime. This method takes a few days to fully implement but, as with any extinction, day by day it gets easier, and the child cries less. Eventually, you will have a child that sleeps through the night. Everyone seems to win, parent and child.
On the other side of the coin, what other behavior are you extinguishing. A baby comes to rely on its parents and is secure in the fact that their mom or dad will be there for them when needed. By using the cry it out method, are you teaching your children the opposite? Are you conditioning your kids to not trust the fact that you will always be there? Some believe that this is far-fetched and that they are only babies, while others strongly believe the opposite. Either way, this is a prime example of a method of extinction that is commonly used in many households today.