Think back to your childhood. How many times did you get to express your emotions? And when you did, were they acknowledged or brushed off? You probably didn’t feel as seen and appreciated as you would have liked and when you grew up, you swore you’d raise your children differently. Often, a parenting style stems from our own experiences growing up. There are a number of parenting styles to adopt depending on your lifestyle and values. However, gentle parenting seems to be the go-to style among the new generation of parents.
This parenting style was first introduced by parenting author Sarah Ockwell-Smith who describes it as a scientific, evidence-based, approach to raising confident and happy children. It encourages partnership between the parent and the children so, the household is run more like a democracy than a dictatorship. Children have a say in decision-making without pressure from their parents.
If you’re wondering whether this is an ideal parenting style for your children, here’s a beginner’s guide to gentle parenting.
Principles Of Gentle Parenting
Gentle parenting emphasizes four key principles; empathy, respect, boundaries, and understanding for the child. It encourages parents to embed a strong emotional and intellectual foundation for their child’s development into well-balanced adults.
Empathy – Don’t dismiss your child’s feelings as temper tantrums. Take time to understand them so you can know how to deal with the situation appropriately.
Respect – Gentle parenting is based on mutual respect. When you show your child respect, they will grow up to respect others.
Boundaries – It’s important to set firm boundaries as a gentle parent. Children will push the limits and it’s up to you to tell them the boundaries and consequences when they break them.
Understanding – Your child’s emotional and intellectual intelligence are still developing. Therefore, you should recognize that your thoughts and understanding as an adult and far different from that of your child.
Though many have categorized gentle parenting as a type of authoritarian parenting style, the author dismisses these claims. She states that authoritarian parenting is an old-school way of raising children and it expects too much from them. Punishments are also a big part of authoritarian parenting which is not the case in gentle parenting. The Four Parenting Styles
It’s also easy to think that gentle parenting means no boundaries for your children which makes many parents apprehensive about adopting this parenting style. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because parents don’t use force or harsh punishments to discipline the child that doesn’t mean they don’t have control. Gentle parents use a partnership with their children to set boundaries that have a long-term impact.
It’s Lazy Parenting
Some people will assume that gentle parenting is lazy but in fact, it’s the opposite. This parenting style requires parents to be actively involved in the child’s life and put in the work to establish a relationship. So, just because the child gets a say in the household, it doesn’t mean that they are left to raise themselves and do whatever they want.
Practice Kindness Towards Yourself
“Gentle parenting is a lifestyle that embraces both your physical and psychological behavior, not only towards your children but to yourself too.” – Sarah Ockwell-Smith. The author of Gentle Parenting recognizes that the parents’ well-being plays a huge role in their parenting style. Therefore, to become a gentle parent you need to show yourself the same compassion you show your children. This will also show your children how to be compassionate about their own feelings.
Don’t Shame Your Child
Shaming them can leave lasting trauma that will affect them in their adulthood. If they happen to do something bad in front of other people, call them aside and explain what they just did and how it’s wrong. Your little one needs you on their side and when you shame them publicly, you lose their trust. Talk good about her to others. 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To your Child
Connect With Your Child
Connection is simply the relationship you have with your child. This is earned and it determines whether your child can trust you. You need to actively engage with your child to establish a connection. Make plans to spend moments with them. Share kind words, dreams and simply be tender with them. Plan parent-child dates where you can talk to each other.
Swap Commands For Invitation
As parents, we tend to think of ourselves as our children’s leaders. This means that whatever we say goes. However, gentle parenting is rooted in working as a team. This means that instead of commanding your children to do something, you should invite them. For instance, if they’re done eating instead of saying “clear the table” try saying “Should we clear the table so we don’t have a mess?” This makes chores feel less like a punishment.
Avoid Harsh Punishments
The common belief is that firm punishment must be harsh. However, this isn’t the case. There are many punishments that don’t involve force and gentle parenting encourages parents to adopt these kinds of punishments. It’s important that your child knows every cause has a consequence. Establish firm boundaries without anger or overreacting.
Benefits Of Gentle Parenting
Gentle parenting offers numerous benefits in the way you raise your children. One of the biggest benefits is that a child will be empathic to the needs and feelings of others.
It can also help your child become more independent. Positive parenting instills confidence in the children making them more sure of their own capabilities.
Gentle parents nurture social and well-mannered children. Your children are less likely to engage in reckless behaviour since they are capable of making wiser decisions.
Children have a better chance of becoming successful adults. Bonding with your child will make them learn from you and imitate you. They will have positive role models in their lives to help them grow into well-balanced adults.
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