What is Gentle Parenting?
Having children is a lot of responsibility; as a parent, you want to make sure that your child grows up to be a kind person who reaches their potential and experiences happiness, so it’s natural to wonder how you can maximise the chances of it happening. You might have even researched different parenting styles and come across the term ‘gentle parenting’, which is becoming a more and more popular way to raise your children. In this blog, you’ll learn what it means and how to adjust your current parenting style.
Gentle Parenting Vs. Traditional Parenting
The traditional parenting style is based on the punishment and reward system. Many parents decide to teach their child what’s right and wrong by rewarding desirable behaviours and punishing them when they do something they don’t approve of. However, the downside of this parenting style is that it doesn’t give the child an opportunity to understand why they might be engaging in difficult behaviour or why it’s unacceptable. For example, if your child throws a tantrum every morning you might focus on how angry it makes you feel and deprive your child of their privileges when they make you late for work instead of exploring the causes behind their reluctance to go to school. On the other hand, gentle parenting puts emphasis on empathy and helping your child acknowledge their feelings, as well as making sense of the situation. For example, your child might find it difficult to get ready for school because they fear interacting with other children due to social anxiety or being picked on. Gentle parenting is a form of partnership that encourages your child to make choices based on what they think is right or wrong and work together to help them to better navigate their emotions.
The benefits of gentle parenting:
- You raise your children to be aware of their emotions and more able to express them
- You strengthen the bond you have with your child
- Your child will understand why their behaviour is wrong instead of letting fear of punishment dictate their choices
- You get to learn your child’s triggers and work around them
A Short Guide to Gentle Parenting
The main rule of gentle parenting is to treat your child like a little human with valid problems and emotions and guide them towards becoming a self-aware person instead of taking on a role of an authority figure whose only job is to punish or reward behaviours. To make sure you follow this parenting style, you should remember to:
1. Understand, not command
When your child refuses to get ready for school, refrain from telling them what to do and try to understand why they might be acting out instead (“What’s wrong, why don’t you want to dress up?”)
2. Validate their emotions
If your child is throwing a tantrum because you don’t want to buy them a new toy, it might be tempting to tell them to stop crying or that other people have it worse but by doing this you’ll invalidate their emotions. Instead, try to acknowledge them by saying something like, “I understand this makes you feel upset”
3. Set boundaries by using positive language
Swap “don’t raise your voice” for “libraries are for keeping quiet” to correct their behaviour.
4. Stay calm
Gentle parenting takes a lot of patience but if you stay calm instead of giving in to your emotions, your child will learn that they can handle conflict without yelling and become better at communication, which will allow them to form healthy relationships with others in the future.
If you find it difficult to stay patient when raising your child or struggle not to make the same mistakes as your parents, you might benefit from therapy. Contact My Family Psychologist to explore your options