Written by Liza John
Since there are more than a handful of styles of parenting in the contemporary world, new parents might often feel overwhelmed about the choice they have to make. Some may have a few parenting techniques that they witnessed in their childhood and wish to use the same in their children, while others may want to avoid the parenting style they grew up with.
Deciding how to parent your child can be tough because it is a decision that is going to leave lasting effects on your family. However, most studies have shown that the best type of parenting is always a variation of the classic authoritative style. The common theme is that parents maintain a connection with their children, allow them to make decisions, and does not focus on harshly punitive techniques.
Gentle parenting, popularized by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, is one such form of parenting.
What Is Gentle Parenting?
Gentle parenting is a positive and evidence-based approach to parenting that deviates from traditional authoritarian parenting and lenient permissive parenting. Here, the parent focuses on modelling behaviours for the child to incorporate into their character, rather than rewarding or punishing the child as they behave according to the parent’s expectations.
The gentle parent hopes to be the inner voice that guides the child through life. Connection, communication, and consistency are three factors that make gentle parenting more effective and easier on the child, unlike permissive or tiger parenting.
With a lot of patients involved, this form of parenting nurtures healthy emotional development and independence in children. As the gentle parent makes decisions for the child based on how willing they are to go through with the decision, parents never impose on kids or tell them “Because I said so” to elicit a behaviour. This understanding and trust that parents show in their children have proven to lead to lower cases of anxiety in children.
Why Should You Choose Gentle Parenting?
Gentle parenting is a mix of attachment and authoritative parenting. Incorporating the best of both styles, gentle parenting gives rise to raising happy, independent, and confident children. With enough leniency, the children do not feel smothered or anxious because of their parents. Children raised with gentle parenting are expected only to display age-appropriate behaviour, giving them room to grow and explore the world at their own pace.
Discipline is not overlooked in gentle parenting but rewards and punishment are seen as overrated or superficial. Instead of praising or punishing the outcome, parents commend the effort that was put in by the child.
Practising Gentle Parenting
Gentle parenting sounds wonderful in theory and looks like something you can start right away at home but hold on. Before you implement this style of parenting in your life, understand that as much as gentle parenting is easy on the child, parents must be calm even in the face of screaming tantrums and maintain self-control. Reverting to traditional punitive or permissive methods might happen when life gets in your way.
The foundation of gentle parenting is based on understanding, empathizing, and respecting your child while setting realistic boundaries for them. Since their young brains are still developing, their behaviour is treated as a result of the ongoing growth. Setting age-appropriate standards for conduct and discipline is another major element. Expecting children to behave in social situations like miniature adults is discouraged.
For instance, if your toddler is screaming in the candy aisle of the grocery store, gentle parenting does not curb this behaviour. Instead, you allow the child to feel the negative emotion and when the child’s cries have subsided, you ask them to take deep breaths and explain to them why eating too much candy is harmful. Tell them that you understand why candy looks appealing, but it is something for special occasions and take them to pick out some other healthier snack of their choice.
In gentle parenting, most tantrums and disruptive behaviours are seen as cries for help because the child does not have the vocabulary to convey what they need. When tantrums are treated this way, children have a better chance at learning to communicate and grow emotionally.
Parenting is a full-time job. There is no way that you can make changes now and expect immediate results. You must start early to shape your child into a being that is functional, respectful, and confident. With gentle parenting, you may have a tough time exploring different ways to tackle problems but remember that the effort is worth it.