The warning label on parenting would presumably read, “Attention: Frustration inevitable.” It’s true that your children will often surprise you when you least expect it. (An alternative? “Best of luck.” (Gentle Parenting)
You could find yourself learning things as you go when raising children since there is always more to learn. Who among us hasn’t tried out various parenting strategies, lost their cool, collected themselves, and adopted a whole new strategy? Parenting entails a certain amount of trial and error, but it’s always motivated by the desire to do what’s best for your children.
When faced with behavioural issues, gentle parenting is one strategy that many exhausted but optimistic parents resort to. It revolves on addressing discipline from a point of compassion and understanding, and it’s lately grown in popularity—and been the subject of intense debate—in part because of social media. Of all, employing gentle parenting methods might be much more difficult than it seems. It entails exercising restraint, managing your own emotions, being composed, and setting the tone—all of which might be challenging after a child tantrum. What precisely is gentle parenting, and is it appropriate for you? Learn more by reading on.
What Exactly Is Gentle Parenting?
Being helpful and empathetic in the face of common obstacles is the aim of gentle parenting. Your child’s feelings will be acknowledged and supported as you practise gentle parenting, which also promotes independence. Since she started her career in 2005, parenting specialist and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith has assisted hundreds of families. But as social media has grown in popularity over the past several years, this mindful parenting style has become even more well-known.
A key component of gentle parenting, according to mother of three and licenced professional child psychologist Cara Goodwin, PhD, is assisting a kid in understanding their feelings and developing empathy for others. In essence, you show your child the respect you expect to get in return. As an added benefit, you’ll discover how to maintain composure under pressure.
Advantages of Gentle Parenting
Using gentle parenting techniques will help your children succeed in life. When a parent accentuates emotional experience and offers this sort of sensitive parenting, Goodwin says, “Children will ideally grow up to be more kind, generous, and understanding.”
The method of gentle parenting is supported by research. One study discovered a connection between teenagers’ aggressive behaviours and depression symptoms and parents’ severe verbal punishment.
One important advantage of gentle parenting, according to Petix, is understanding how your child’s brain functions. We adults frequently overlook the reality that our children are still developing their social skills. It enhances your relationship and fosters trust when you get where your child is coming from.
Gentle parenting may also start a pattern of good parenting. According to research, this style of parenting is transmitted from generation to generation.
The Philosophy of Gentle Parenting and Discipline
Observing what Goodwin refers to as the “positive opposite” of your kid’s negative behaviour is an essential component of gentle parenting. This implies that rather than praising your child for their mistakes, you should instead focus on what they are doing properly. According to research, modifying bad behaviours requires the use of positive reinforcement.
Being less reactive and refraining from utilising penalties as a form of discipline are the objectives. Instead, gentle parenting methods assist you in emphasising compassion and empathy. Gentle parenting isn’t only about how you handle a difficult circumstance, though. It involves becoming knowledgeable about your child’s growth. By confirming their emotions, you may help your youngster learn that strong emotions are normal. “The end goal isn’t to have a child void of emotions,” says Laura Petix, MS, OTR/L, a paediatric occupational therapist and parenting consultant who employs gentle parenting with her daughter.
That does not imply, though, that parents should give in to their children’s every request. You may show your child that you understand their feelings while maintaining a barrier. For instance, Petix consented to purchase her daughter a doll while they were visiting Disneyland. 1 doll. Her daughter, however, wanted two. Petix utilised gentle parenting methods as she began to complain, sob, and stamp her feet, saying, “Ugh, I know they’re both SO adorable. The two of them together would be so much fun. Today, we are simply purchasing one doll.
If it’s too difficult for you to do it yourself, I can do it for you. You may embrace the doll, snap a photo, and put it back. She then acknowledged her daughter’s sentiments and put the doll back on the shelf. It is my duty to refrain from punishing, ignoring, or squelching such emotions. Instead, until she feels in control, I could give her a hug, kiss, or squeeze (this will look different for every child).
Perceived Issues with Gentle Parenting
In most instances, if you’re prepared to put in the effort (and the time), you should see favourable results. However, no parenting approach is flawless, and it may be disheartening when you don’t achieve the outcomes you were hoping for.
According to Goodwin, there is a misconception that children must get severe punishment in order to “learn their lesson,” but we all know this is untrue. According to research, yelling and humiliating a child may temporarily relieve your tension, but it won’t benefit either of you in the long term. Positive reinforcement, which is a key component of gentle parenting, helps people learn more effectively.
Many detractors of gentle parenting fail to realise that it is not about eliminating all bad habits and maintaining a stress-free environment. A significant component of gentle parenting, according to Goodwin, is acknowledging that challenging actions are developmentally typical for young children.
According to Petix, social media has contributed to the perception that there are issues with gentle parenting and has given many parents a “surface-level understanding” of it. It’s frequently mistaken with parenting that gives the child complete discretion, or Permissive Parenting.
Parenting gently requires commitment. Being consistent might be more difficult for parents of various family kinds. It could be challenging to execute for parents of children with impairments, single parents, or households with several kids. According to Goodwin, parents with neurodivergent or spirited children can utilise gentle parenting, but it might be difficult to maintain composure among kids who have more frequent, severe meltdowns. You might find it helpful to get more assistance from a mental health expert.
Additionally, utilising gentle parenting techniques may be challenging for parents who experienced trauma as children. For those parents, therapy for traumatic childhood events is a great method to address their own stressors.
Guidelines for Being a Gentle Parent in Everyday Life
If you’re contemplating using gentle parenting methods, start by evaluating if your child’s behaviour is suitable for his or her age. In contrast to intentionally misbehaving or aiming to annoy you, Goodwin claims that children frequently display problematic behaviour because they lack certain abilities. Effective parents put more of a focus on teaching these skills to their kids than just punishing bad behaviour, according to research. Here are some pointers to help you get started on your path to kinder, more thoughtful parenting:
Pick Your Words Carefully.
Goodwin advises saying the same idea in a variety of ways. It’s best to refrain from stating, “If you yell again, no iPad for the rest of the week.” Instead, try saying something like, “Let’s remember to use our inner voices while we are inside. Could you demonstrate how to use your inner voice? Your strategy plays a significant role in gentle parenting.
Educate Your Child To Succeed
Prior to the event, go through your child’s expectations. Petix suggests having them repeat your strategy so you can be sure they understood you. If you’re giving them a certain amount of time to complete an activity, a visible timer may be useful.
When The Meltdown Occurs, Have A Strategy.
A breakdown could occur after you have steadfastly defended your boundary. Keep your youngster safe by sitting next to them. For example, Petix advises stating, “I’m going to pick you up and move you away from the blocks to keep you safe.”
Describe Your Feelings.
To teach your youngster about emotional management, Goodwin advises naming your current feelings. You can talk about emotions a character in a book or on television is going through.
Allow your youngster to make decisions on their own (up to a point), even blunders, advises Goodwin. Errors are a natural part of life. “Respect their independence, and correct their behaviour when necessary,” she says.
Later, Follow Up
Bedtime is the perfect chance to check in, according to Petix, since your youngster is (ideally) settling down for the night. It enables individuals to digest their emotions and have a wider perspective on the issue.
Be There For Your Child.
“Spend one-on-one’special time’ with no distractions on a regular basis,” advises Goodwin. She continues by saying that this is one of the best ways to strengthen the bond between parents and children.
Take A Count
Still confused of how to raise children gently in the face of so much stress? Look over your child’s actions and consider which ones most upset you. Goodwin emphasises the significance of parents controlling their own emotions after that. It is simple to respond in a trigger-like manner; being more considerate and thoughtful requires effort.
Show your child your love above all else, even how severely they may be challenging you. Additionally, if you’re having trouble, look for assistance and engage in some mindfulness exercises. You must be nice and compassionate with yourself in order to give your children the finest version of yourself.
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