Are you gentle parenting? Would you like to start? Here is what you should know about being a gentle parent.
Parenting is a tough job; it can be especially challenging if you’re parenting multiple children with different personalities and specific needs.
Every child is different, with different temperaments that will influence the way you parent, interact with and discipline them.
This is especially true for children with challenging behaviours who are often difficult to manage because they lack impulse control and don’t understand what’s socially acceptable behaviour.
However, by adopting the principles of a gentle parenting approach, you can support your child through every stage of their development without resorting to punishment or harsh discipline tactics that may harm them and fracture your relationship.
What is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle parenting is an evidence-based parenting approach that is based on the principles of being respectful, understanding, empathetic and setting boundaries with your children.
Characteristics of a Gentle Parent
1. Gentle parents encourage their children to be independent and self-reliant while also encouraging them to reach out when they are hurt or upset.
Gentle parents encourage their children’s independence by allowing them freedom of choice within the reasonable limits they have set.
2. Gentle parents are attentive and empathetic towards their children. This means they listen openly without judgment or criticism when their children share their thoughts or feelings with them.
Gentle parents understand the needs of their children by paying attention to what they say, being responsive to their needs, and empathizing with their feelings.
For example, a parent might respond to their child’s feelings of sadness by saying, “It must have been very hard for you when your friend went away on holiday.”
3. Gentle parenting encourages mothers/fathers to let go of control by giving up the need for perfectionism and instead allowing themselves freedom from being able to dictate how things should turn out in their children’s life.
4. In a gentle parenting environment, parents have clear boundaries with their children. They avoid using rewards and punishments to enforce those boundaries. Gentle parents set limits and enforce boundaries is done without shouting, threatening or spanking their children.
A common misconception of this parenting approach is that gentle parents are weak with their children; this is not the case.
Gentle parents do not believe in being permissive or allowing their children to get away with anything, rather, they firmly set limits and enforce boundaries.
5. Gentle parents explain things to children rather than using the “because I say so” model. For example, a gentle parent will explain the consequences of an action to their child rather than saying, “do not do that because I say so.”
Another way to think about this is that gentle parenting is an “if-then” model. Parents say, “if you do X thing, then Y will happen.”
In contrast, a strict parent might use the “either/or” model. They are likely to say, “either you play nice or you don’t play at all this afternoon!”
6. Gentle parenting is based on the belief that children learn positive behaviour through modelling. That is, parents model the behaviour they want their children to show.
Gentle Parenting is a Long-term Approach
Gentle parenting is a long-term approach. If you are trying to establish gentleness in your parenting, you need to be consistent, patient, and persistent to see the results.
It’s also important to know that as with all parenting approaches, you need to modify gentle parenting according to your specific needs and situation.
Challenges of Being a Gentle Parent
One of the major challenges that some parents might face is the patience it requires to be a gentle parent. Often it might seem easier to respond at the moment to a particular behaviour or you might respond in anger or out of tiredness and frustration.
You should know that to parent gently does not require perfection. It requires patience. It requires knowing and understanding your child and seeing them as individuals who deserve respect and empathy like yourself.
Final Words on Gentle Parenting
To summarize, gentle parenting is a way of parenting that promotes respect, compassion and empathy in your relationships with your children.
It can encourage you to look at all aspects of parenting from your child’s perspective while also giving you tools to foster and support your child throughout their development.