Gentle Parenting - What is it? Here is Why it Works Well for Some Parents
What is Gentle Parenting?
There is no scientifically defined way to practice "Gentle Parenting," and many specialist describe it quite differently. At Bunnies Ark, we see Gentle Parenting as parenting style that focuses on building a mutually respectful partnership between parent and child. It focuses on modeling the behavior that you want to showcase to your child. Coming from a place of empathy, with gentle parenting, parents often ask themselves, “am I treating my child how I would want to be treated?”
Some of the basis of gentle parenting is that your children mimic behaviors they are shown. When your children are watching and listening to others, they are learning how to behave, and what is normal behavior. One of the mothers who turned to gentle parenting said this about the parenting style, "I was previously very pro-spanking, until I saw my 14-month daughter innocently trying to spank me back. I stopped spanking, and sought communication. I realized, most of the time, I just didn't know what she needed. "
What does Gentle Parenting Look Like?
- More Options; Less Commands
- Parents Emulate Behavior
- No Yelling, No Spanking
- Respect Child's Feelings and Emotions
- Limited Strict Routine
- Frequent Communication; Always Ask Questions
- Gentle Boundaries with Explanations
Children are Always Watching and Listening, Good Behaviors and Bad.
For all children, parents are usually the most influential role models. Gentle parenting style holds parental actions and behavior to a high standard. Everything we do and say is observed and absorbed by our children. In early childhood, parents are oftentimes communicating discipline to their children. "Don't stand on the chair!" "No!" "Eat your food!" "Stop!" Etc. A lot of that discipline language is also behavior communicated.
Language is one of the fundamental aspects that shape our children's personality and personal growth. As parents, our language towards our children may be filled with commands and control during discipline. Gentle parenting acknowledges that language impacts your child's behavior.
When commands don't work, some parents resort to light spanking and screaming as acceptable forms of discipline. When all hell breaks loose in a household, screaming and spanking sometimes feel like the only solution to calm the storm of parenthood.
With gentle parenting, we understand that a child's behavior is neither good nor bad, they are simply expressing. Since children emulate their parents behavior, a screaming parent may lead to a child screaming more as a learned behavior.
Emulating Positive Behaviors
Part of being a good role model for your child as they learn right from wrong is showing to them positive behavior. Here are a few things that can help guide make this process smoother:
- Give positive attention regularly, which is frequently referred to as "special time" (opportunities to communicate positively are important for children of all ages).
- Pay attention to children and assist them in learning to communicate their feelings through words.
- Allow children to make decisions if appropriate options exist and then assist them in evaluating the potential consequences of their decisions.
- Demonstrate orderly, predictable conduct, courteous communication, and conflict resolution options that are collaborative.
"No yelling? No spanking? So, how do you expect parents to discipline their children?" According to the experts, the first step to an effective discipline policy is a “positive, supporting, caring relationship” between the parent and the child. Little else matters to children unless they feel safe and secure.
The foundation of a parent-child connection should be love and respect, not the threat of violence or verbal attack. It is critical that your children, whether they are toddlers or teenagers, understand that you love and respect them. It will grow and strengthen their love and respect for you, making them more receptive and open to constructive direction and discipline rather than punishment.
Here are some ways parents can gently discipline kids in the right direction when they test limits.
1. Establish Effective Communication
Teach children how to respectfully express their thoughts and needs. One significant approach to do this is to simulate the desired behavior. When your child does anything wrong or you disagree with them, speak to them in a kind tone, be firm but kind when disciplining them, and never yell at or belittle them.
2. Have Family Rules
Make it clear what constitutes an "absolutely no-go zone." Make sure your children understand the rules. Tell them you're willing to listen to them if they believe regulation is unjust—as long as they talk to you respectfully. However, some laws, such as wearing a helmet while riding a bike, are non-negotiable and must be obeyed at all times.
3. Keep Instructions Brief
Have a short conversation with your small child. Yes, a child needs to believe that their thoughts and feelings are being heard and that their parents are concerned about them.
However, going into a long explanation with a 5-year-old about why they need to go to bed early or why they shouldn't abruptly let go of your hand and run through a parking lot won't help. Your child won't be able to properly listen, understand the rule, and remember it the next time because of his or her developmental stage.
Giving them a penalty is a more effective strategy. Running in the parking lot, for example, may prevent you from getting them a favorite snack at the store. "You will take my hand as we walk from the car to the store," remind them instead.
Or tell your child that because they didn't get ready for bed on time, they won't receive an extra snuggle with you or a favorite goodnight tale. These strategies are far more likely to work with both younger and older school-aged children.
4. Have Patience
At the end of day, gentle parenting is going to require a lot of patience from both parents and children. As parents, you can't expect your children to understand immediately. It may time for mutual respect between you and your child to be established. Practice makes perfect, and setting boundaries, like anything else, may take a few tries before your child learns what is expected of them.
Here's what the experts have to say about how to put it into practice:
- Maintain a pleasant emotional tone in the family by engaging in activities such as play and showing affection for the child.
- To lessen resistance, communicate respect for the child, and make bad experiences less distressing, provide consistency in the form of regular times and routines for daily activities and interactions.
- Respond consistently to similar behavioral events to foster more harmonious parent-child relationships and better results for children.
Gentle parenting works for many who want to respect their child's emotions and wants before establishing control as a parent. At the end of the day, no parenting style is better than another. It is meant to be informative for parents looking to explore others of child rearing. All that matters is you love your children beyond anything else.