Gentle parenting is one parenting style that is gaining traction with a lot of new parents. Many of us have grown up in abusive households or been raised at a time when strict parenting was the norm. This left us with issues that needed a lot of self-work as we grew up. It is therefore wonderful to see so many parents willing to break away from generational traumas and set up a new base that is more respectful of the child in the relationship.
At the same time, take one look at parenting groups or internet forums and you are bound to come across many people who have problems with gentle parenting, they believe gentle parenting is ridiculous! There is an assumption that to be a gentle parent means you never say No to your child and that somehow gentle parenting is some sort of passive parenting style.
This however could not be further from the truth.
WHAT IS GENTLE PARENTING?
Gentle parenting means to parent through connection, love, and understanding. You treat your child as another human being, with respect.
But does that mean you don’t discipline when needed? Are all behaviors acceptable?
Here lies the key to getting it right and why gentle parenting doesn’t work for some.
Loving your child and giving your child freedom does not mean a lack of boundaries.
In fact, loving boundaries are the structure that holds your family life together.
IS GENTLE PARENTING EFFECTIVE?
Yes, and if anything, gentle parenting is the opposite of permissive parenting.
We all want our children to be responsible adults one day and it is our job as parents to rein in any behavior that is not socially or otherwise acceptable. The parent acts as a guide to the child.
To be a gentle parent means we come from a place of being first and foremost attuned to the child’s needs and then guiding the child in understanding the world they live in and how to conduct themselves in this world.
Related reading: How to handle toddler tantrums, the gentle parenting way.
WHAT TYPE OF PARENTING IS GENTLE PARENTING?
Gentle parenting is more like research-backed Authoritative parenting.
In this parenting style parents are nurturing, responsive, and supportive yet set firm limits and boundaries with regard to the child’s safety and well-being. The focus is on problem-solving together, explaining rules, and discussing and reasoning with the child.
It is not easy and requires a level of awareness and self-work on the parent’s side to guide the child without behavior modifying methods like punishments, rewards, and shame.
You have to get be willing to accept all feelings even unpleasant ones. As human beings we all go through a range of emotions as we live life, our children are no different, as parents our role is to support the child’s journey and give them tools to cope better with different eventualities.
Let’s look at some gentle parenting examples, how do we redirect unwanted behavior without crushing our child’s heart?
Example – Toddler is using a crayon. The child is naturally curious and wants to know, what happens when he colors on the walls, the sofa, or the table. A permissive parent allows this to happen.
A gentle parent sets the limits. As the parent, you will explain to your child in the simplest way possible, “Crayons are used to color on paper”, or, “We use crayons for artwork on paper” Not everyone wants their walls painted with crayons. And if the act is not acceptable to you as a parent, you can set a limit and reiterate it consistently, calmly, and respectfully.
While setting the limit is important, it is equally important to meet your toddler’s needs. Maybe the toddler needs to know, “What happens when?” which means the parent will now provide an opportunity to meet the child’s needs in an acceptable way.
If you don’t want coloring on the walls, come up with ideas to try and redirect the child’s need to explore through different art activities and art materials.
Try coloring on chart paper, cardboard paper, and spare boxes. Maybe you try using different painting styles or materials like painting with vegetable skin, painting on leaves, and painting on ice.
Redirect the child’s attention to other similar activities and meet the need for exploration.
This goes to show that indeed gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Gentle Parenting is parenting based on connection, meeting needs, redirecting, and teaching children how to conduct themselves.
Gentle parents do not judge and label a child’s behaviors, they look beyond behaviors and find solutions and ways to help their children understand how to live with themselves and those around them.
What are some of the doubts you have about gentle parenting? Let’s discuss.