Gentle Parenting: A Peaceful Approach to Discipline

Gentle parenting has become synonymous with respectful parenting. But what does this mean? There are misconceptions that this parenting style doesn’t teach boundaries or is hands-off and neglectful. But the truth is that gentle parenting is a middle ground between rigid and lax (also known as jellyfish) parenting styles. In this article, we will discuss gentle parenting and how to implement it in your home.

Understanding Gentle Parenting

When practicing gentle parenting, you take a compassionate approach that relies on empathy, understanding, and respect. Ultimately, the goal is to raise confident, empathetic, and independent children who can form healthy boundaries. Traditional parenting typically focuses on punishment and rewards (such as timeouts for child misbehavior and gifts or treats when they are cooperative). Instead, gentle parenting relies on teaching self-awareness, allowing children to recognize and understand their behavior.

Gentle parenting involves working together as a family. It entails teaching children to express their emotions in age-appropriate and socially acceptable ways. Part of teaching a child how to do this is by modeling the same behavior.

What Are the Benefits of Gentle Parenting?

Some of these benefits of gentle parenting include:

  • Building Strong Bonds: Think of positive experiences as the building blocks for a fulfilling life. When there isn’t a strong bond, it leaves gaps in the foundation, potentially affecting how we navigate the world. Healthy bonds support and encourage confidence, connections, and exploration.
  • Reducing Anxiety: While there are a variety of components that can cause childhood anxiety, parenting style can increase or decrease anxiety and how a child copes.
  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Because you are modeling empathy, it reinforces the behavior.

Examples of Gentle Parenting

There are moments when children aren’t cooperative, even when you ask them nicely and calmly to do something multiple times. Resist getting upset and take a deep breath. Stay calm and say, “It seems you aren’t cooperating today. Can you tell me why?” Give them a moment to process the question and work together on a resolution. If the question is too complex, ask yes or no questions.

Gentle parenting feels easier said than done, especially during tantrums. However, remember that tantrums are ways for children to communicate big emotions. Trying to stop them is ineffective and counterproductive. Gentle parenting calls for you to engage your child by validating their feelings (“I see you are upset right now”). After they have calmed down, use the opportunity to understand what triggered the tantrum and devise solutions for next time.

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