Parenting style has always been a hot topic. Most concerned parents are interested in knowing whether the types of parenting techniques they use are really effective or not.
In pursuit of providing the best care for our children, we may knowingly or unknowingly shift our parenting habits overtimes. Sometimes being stern while other times being lenient, we often experiment in order to bring about a change in our child’s behavior.
However, recent trends show a significant shift towards a gentle parenting approach due to the greater benefits that can be gained. Let’s explore what gentle parenting is and what techniques you can follow as a parent.
What Is Gentle Parenting?
Parenting style has always been a hot topic. Gentle parenting, as the name suggests, is all about showing compassion and empathy towards your children and using positive parenting techniques to encourage or discipline them.
Dan Peters, a renowned psychologist and Parent Footprint podcast host describes gentle parenting as “a form of positive parenting that emphasizes understanding a child’s behavior through empathy and respect, giving choices versus commands, and responding in a way that considers a child’s intellectual and developmental level.”
Instead of strict rules and an authoritative relationship where the parents seem to be the ones in power, gentle parenting can be considered more like a partnership. It teaches introspection, so the child is able to reflect on their own actions and welcomes emotions so that the child willingly takes part in altering their behavior or habits.
According to Sarah Ockwell-Smith, the author of The Gentle Parenting Book, gentle parenting has three core values which are empathy, understanding, and respect.
Gentle Parenting Core Value: Empathy
Empathy includes being considerate of the feelings and emotions of your child at all times. Treating them with compassion is a great way to build a bond and trust with your child. It also encourages them to treat others with kindness and care, thus helping make them more compassionate as they grow older.
Gentle Parenting Core Value: Understanding
One basic principle to understand when it comes to gentle parenting is to understand where the child is coming from. There will be numerous situations that you, as an adult, may handle differently. Children may, however, perceive the world differently according to their own emotional maturity. Thus it is essential to realize that at the end of the day, a child is after a child and not a grownup yet.
Gentle Parenting Core Value: Respect
The key is to have mutual respect between the parents and the children. Showing respect to your child by not using any harsh words, giving punishments, or transgressing their boundaries is critical. Having positive communication and making sure that they know that you respect them is a great way to make them more responsible and respectable towards you and others.
Pros of Gentle Parenting
Adopting a gentle approach or style when it comes to parenting can bring incredible benefits for your family as well as for the child individually. Here are some of the most significant advantages:
- Boosts confidence and self-esteem in children
- Increased compassion and empathy for others
- Better control over emotions and mood
- A healthier relationship with parents
- Enhanced performance in school
- A happier and more content child
Cons of Gentle Parenting
Like any other parenting style, gentle parenting also comes with its own set of disadvantages. Following are a few of the major drawbacks:
- Demands a lot of patience
- Requires consistency to see results
- Difficulty in disciplining or structuring
- May not be suitable for everyone
Simple Techniques for Gentle Parenting
So what are some of the effective methods or tips that you can follow if you are trying to adopt a more gentle parenting approach. The following techniques will help you along the way, especially if you are new to gentle parenting.
Focus on empathy
Consciously show and express empathy whenever you are dealing with your children. Take their feelings into consideration for any situation that might arise, and choose your words or actions wisely. And like mentioned above, remember they are, after all, children.
Being gentle does not mean that you can not set boundaries. In fact, they are an excellent way to keep your children disciplined. Just make sure that the limits you set are reasonable as well as age-appropriate. Communicate these boundaries, the reason for them, and any consequences of not following them to your child in a positive way.
Avoid raising your voice
Parenting can be frustrating, and you may be guilty of occasionally losing your temper. Put in efforts to keep your emotions in balance and to not shout or yell at your child. For gentle parenting to work, it is essential that you show them the same kind of respect that you want from them in return.
Correct the action
When your child does something wrong, instead of insulting or grounding them, focus on the action. Let them know that their behavior was not right rather than making them feel bad about themselves. Additionally, instead of punishment, look for healthier options to correct the behavior, such as paying them for help around the house to compensate for any valuables they have broken or lost.
Accept your mistakes
As parents, you’re bound to make mistakes or errors. Do not be afraid to acknowledge that you have been wrong about something or to apologize in front of your child. As children follow in the footsteps of their parents, gentle parenting is a great way to teach them how to own up to their shortcomings.