How we are raised can affect every aspect of our life. That’s why it is essential to ensure parenting styles support healthy growth and development. Many adults discipline their children unconsciously, often basing their approach on childhood experiences. Using their past experiences as a blueprint, they navigate this new role, knowing what to avoid.
Gaining in popularity is a method called gentle parenting. Build on a foundation of understanding, empathy, respect, and setting boundaries, it aims to recognize your child as an individual. If this resonates with you, here is a beginner’s guide to understanding each of its building blocks. Remember that each household is different; what works for someone might not resonate with you. There is no right or wrong.
What is gentle parenting?
This modern approach to parenting encourages a relationship, similar to a partnership. Instead of focusing on external pressure, this method bases itself on allowing the child to make its own decision. To enable this internal willingness, you have to become aware of your behavior’s influence on them. Someone who encourages compassion creates a safe space for emotions and sees children as individuals capable of thinking for themselves will incite the same conduct from their kids.
Gentle parenting does not follow a strict set of rules. Its philosophy bases itself on four main concepts:
- understanding your child
- empathizing with them
- showing them respect
Instead of pressuring a child to behave a certain way, this method focuses on finding the source of their misbehavior and correcting it without resorting to control and punishment. Unlike the tools of old-school, authoritarian parenting, it builds trust and respect between the two parties. Without being pressured to adjust their behavior, kids have the space to express their emotions without fear of repercussions.
This style of parenting creates a fertile environment for parents to set boundaries.
How to practice gentle parenting
Below are the following fundamental principles to ensure you are doing it right. You’ll notice the common three Cs (connection, communication, and consistency) run through these practices.
It’s simple. The more you connect with your child, the higher are the odds that they’ll behave in a way that reciprocates respect. Good communication and gentle consistency with boundaries help to build that vital connection.
According to research, a baby’s brain rapidly grows during the first 18 months of life. Unlike an adult, they do not possess the capacity to control their behavior. To expect them to have the same train of thought is not realistic.
A child that throws a tantrum does so because he doesn’t have a better way to communicate their needs. Parents should make sure that their expectations are age-appropriate and understand why this behavior happens instead of punishing them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of everyday family life. Things get hectic and quickly! When your child behaves in a way that affects others around him, making an effort to be mindful of your child’s feelings and how they voice their needs can be highly beneficial.
Taking a second to empathize with your kid gives you a better insight into what the present situation requires. It will also show your kid that treating others with care and compassion goes a long way and is an efficient way of coming to a compromise.
Allow your child the space to voice concerns. If they are old enough to communicate with you, ask them what they want. If they cry when you drop them off at kindergarten, try and find out why that is. Are they afraid you won’t come back? Knowing what causes their reactions can help both parent and child solve problems without resorting to yelling or punishment.
Just like you, kids have feelings of their own and preferences! If you don’t like people yelling at you or telling you to do something without any explanation, the chances are that your tiny human won’t respond to it well.
Gentle parenting takes more time but showing your child that you respect them, and treat them the way you want others to treat you, goes a long way. Voice your thoughts, and explain why they need to behave a certain way. Instead of telling them to “be quiet” while you’re talking on the phone, explain to them that you’ll be available in a few moments to listen to what they have to say.
Does gentle parenting work?
People sometimes mistake gentle parenting for being overly permissive – allowing children to get away with anything.
The truth is, building that strong relationship with your child plays a crucial role in setting a healthy environment. When they voice their concerns and see that they are listened to, they will do the same.
Boundaries are not synonymous with an endless list of rules. They are there to teach children a better way of doing things.
This style of parenting is not about quick fixes. It’s about raising human beings who can become happy, independent, and resilient adults.