Parenting is as tricky as it gets, and no parent can boldly say they have figured it all out. Each parent worries whether they are making the right decisions for their child and every great parenting site has wonderful advice on different parenting styles.
One parenting style has really become popular. Gentle parenting has become all the rage now, and not without merit. Different parenting styles work differently for each family. Read on to find out whether gentle parenting is best for you and your family.
What is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle parenting is a parenting method that focuses on understanding your child better and responding with empathy and respect. This parenting style is child-focused, and the child is taught through connection and cooperation instead of punishment and rewards.
Communication is key. Gentle parenting involves communicating expectations to the child. This means that the child knows beforehand what is expected in a specific situation. In addition, the child is taught to learn by taking responsibility.
Foundations of Gentle Parenting
Empathy is the ability to understand how someone feels in a certain situation and look at things from their point of view rather than your own. With gentle parenting, the parent is encouraged to be conscious of what their child is feeling and what they need at that moment.
The goal is to honor the child’s feelings instead of ignoring them or suppressing them, and empathy enables you to take a breath and hear them first.
Gentle parenting focuses on collaboration over compliance and understanding that children should be respected. Studies show that when respect is modeled, children learn how to respect others as well.
One of the ways to respect the child is to avoid harsh commands that inspire fear and exchange them for collaborative conversations that promote respect.
Another objective of gentle parenting is to understand that your child is still a child, no matter the emotional, cognitive, or developmental stage. The parent should be able to acknowledge behaviors based on developmental stages and manage emotions and reactions accordingly.
In gentle parenting, the goal of discipline is creating age-appropriate boundaries. The parent should create boundaries based on where the child is in their cognitive and developmental stage. Any boundaries should be communicated to the child effectively. “Because I said so” is not an adequate answer, as the child will not know the reason behind a set boundary.
When a boundary is not upheld, the child is guided to understand their mistake so that the child knows that the action is what is being punished. Gentle parenting also allows for leniency and saying ‘yes’ sometimes.
This way, this parenting style teaches kids how to set boundaries for themselves.
How it Works
- Be kind. Be kind to yourself and your child. Modeling kindness will help your child learn how to be compassionate to others as well.
- Focus on the behavior and not the child. Gentle parenting differentiates the action from the child when dealing with behavior. So, instead of saying, “Bad! Don’t do that!” gentle parenting proposes saying, “It is not okay to do that. Let’s try doing this instead”.
- Positive rephrasing. Consider using questions when asking your child to do something instead of demanding it. Therefore, if a child spills milk, instead of saying, “clean this mess.” gentle parenting suggests, “should we clean this mess so that no one slips and falls?”.
- Collaborate. Look at your child as a partner and work with them. The focus is not on telling them what to do but on showing them how to do it and allowing them to be part of the process.
- You are called to the principal’s office and informed that your child fought with their classmate.
In this scenario, a parent will most likely be very disappointed and choose scolding and punishment. In gentle parenting, the parent is encouraged to understand what the child was feeling in that situation and why they did what they did. They would then remind the child that fighting is not the answer. Any consequence of the behavior would be based on the root cause and communicated to the child.
- Your child is crying because they do not want to go to school. Instead of telling them to stop crying and insisting they go to school, the gentle parent would affirm their feelings, help them regulate their emotions, and understand the reason why they do not want to go. This will then help you know whether to let them stay home or help them prepare for school.
- Your child has an upcoming dentist appointment. The gentle parent prepares the child before the visit to the dentist by explaining what they should expect during the appointment. By the time the appointment arrives, your child will be well-equipped for it.
Is Gentle Parenting For You?
It is easy to get caught up in your family’s routine and run on auto-pilot. Gentle parenting requires you to be present and conscious of your child’s emotional needs. It needs a lot of patience and time as you train the child.
However, the benefits are great. The child learns how to regulate their own behavior and emotions and set boundaries for themselves as they have already seen a model of what healthy boundaries look like.