What is Gentle Parenting (& How to do it!)
Are you constantly wondering if you are doing this whole mom thing right?
me too, Me Too!
There are so many different styles of parenting. Gentle Parenting is just another one on the list.
It isn’t the easiest of the group either, but as you start to incorporate it into your parenting – you will feel so much better (& so will your kids!).
It’s a win-win.
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What is Gentle Parenting?
Before we talk about gentle parenting, let’s talk about the four most commonly known types of parenting styles (& no I’m not talking about helicopter parents – although they do fall into one of these types).
The Four Types of Parenting Styles
These types of parents tend to give a ton of demands && expectations to their children, with very little in return.
It’s all about the parent, and the parent knows best.
Children with Authoritarian parents can do well because they were raised to follow rules and be better than those around them.
On the other hand, children of authoritarian parents often rebel and make bad choices later in life. Children may grow up to dislike their parents.
Permissive parents are much more loving and welcoming than authoritarian parents.
However, permissive parents don’t hold their children to any standards and allow them to do what they want. This is problematic, especially when kids are young.
Children with permissive parents love their parents, but can sometimes treat them as a friend instead of a parent.
These parents provide the basic necessities for their children, but don’t show love or interest.
Children of uninvolved parents don’t feel important and tend to have more disruptive behaviors.
They also have a much greater chance of substance abuse.
Because kids of uninvolved parents practically raise themselves – they can grow up to be business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Authoritative parents show their children love and support while having high expectations and ensuring their child does well.
These children have the greatest outcomes in life and tend to be more self-reliant and successful.
Authoritative parents are strict; but loveable. Their kids do what is asked of them because they want to; not because they are forced to.
These types of parents set limits for their children and help them make good decisions on their own. This is the parenting style that is most favored by most psychologists and parent experts.
Now, let’s get back to the original question. What is Gentle parenting?
According to Sarah Ockwell-Smith, a parenting expert:
“Gentle Parenting is a scientific, evidence-based, approach to raising confident and happy children. It is a parenting ethos characterized by the following four tenets: Empathy, Respect, Understanding, and Boundaries.”
Not surprisingly, gentle parenting is Authoritative parenting.
Gentle parenting is just another term to describe this type of parenting using an easier to understand word “gentle”.
I like to say it’s gentle but strict.
This is how I would describe my own parenting style. I have strict limits, but I’m going to expect Jolene to meet these in her own way and on her own time.
I’ll step in when I need to, but let her make her mistakes as she goes. I’ll be there when she falls, and show her how to get back up.
I won’t hold her to an impossible standard (authoritarian) but I also won’t ignore her (uninvolved).
I most definitely won’t allow her to do whatever the heck she wants (permissive).
Does gentle parenting work?
Yes. Of course, it does. According to this study, authoritative parenting was associated with greater behavioral adherence and less difficulty with stress.
This was a study done on kids with diabetes, who already have a ton of stress in their lives.
According to the study, kids with parents who practice a gentle (or authoritative) parenting approach were less stressed overall.
Their family life was better. This is just one among many recommendations for this type of parenting.
5 tips to get started with Gentle Parenting?
Say “Yes” instead of “No”
This is straight from one of my favorite parenting books, Love and Logic.
Don’t be permissive, and give your child what they want, but when your child asks for something – answer with “Yes, after you do blank”.
“Mommy, can I have chocolate?” – “Sure baby, after you take your nap.”
You aren’t saying no, but they must do what you need them to do first. Of course, this doesn’t work for everything.
“Mommy, can I run in the road?” – absolutely not! OR “Sure baby, as soon as you’re 18”
Try to spin any of your usual “no’s” into a “Yes”.
Use Time-in instead of Time-out
Have your child spend time in their room to calm down. I have a detailed Gentle parenting time-in routine here.
Magic 1-2-3 is a great gentle parenting technique that helps in my house.
Use consequences with compassion
When you do have to give a consequence, make sure they know that you don’t really enjoy it.
Talk to them about why the consequence had to be given && offer ways to avoid it next time because it’s no fun.
Offer multiple choices that you are okay with, so that you child can choose.
Children have such little control of their lives, if we can give them any – we should.
Treat your child with respect
You can’t expect your child to respect you or anyone else around him, if you don’t model this behavior.
Your child can make decisions, and if it’s an acceptable choice – let them.
They should be able to make mistakes and learn from them.
Don’t give them advice unless they ask. Even if you know it’s not going to work – let them figure that out on their own (you never know, they may just make it work!).
Okay, so if I can’t spank my child what should I do? Natural Consequences.
If there is a consequence that happens naturally then you don’t need to give an additional consequence.
For example, Jolene acted out at her gymnastics class. We had to get out of there as fast as possible, she didn’t get to say good-bye to her friend.
This was a natural consequence. I talked to her about how it was really sad that she didn’t get to say good-bye, but we had to leave due to her behavior.
I ended with, “hopefully, you’ll be able to say good-bye next week!”
If a natural consequence doesn’t work, use time-in or time-away.
Once your child comes out of time-in, let them know that you missed them & go on with your day.
Don’t continue to badger them or make them apologize.
Another option would be to talk with your child and come up with a consequence together.
Honestly, kids can come up with some great consequences.
Make sure you talk to your child about the consequences of the choices that were made.
A gentle parent wants their child to learn from those choices. It’s not about a quick – GET THEM TO STOP! We want them to choose better forever.
Acknowledge feelings. The book, How to talk so Little Kids will Listen is great for this. It gives plenty of actual methods to talk to a child and get through to them.
Gentle Parenting Books
Want to learn more about gentle parenting? Here are some of the best books to get started!
- Parenting with Love and Logic
- Magic 1-2-3
- How to talk so Little Kids will Listen (also available for older kids)
- The Gentle Parenting Book
- Peaceful Parenting Book – Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
- The Gentle Discipline Book