Ask any parent about their secret to raising kids and they’ll tell you a million stories. But the key takeaway is no parent has ever figured it out. Parenting styles that work for one might not work for another. Ultimately, everyone wants to raise happy kids and become happier parents. In reality, it is challenging to know if you’re raising kids the right way. Experts agree that gentle parenting techniques can bring in a lot of differences. It can have a positive impact on kids’ mental and emotional well-being and improve your relationship with them.
What is the Gentle Parenting Style?
Gentle parenting teaches parents to raise happy, independent, and confident kids by teaching them respect, and empathy, and setting healthy boundaries. While the traditional parenting style focuses mainly on rewards and punishment, gentle parenting techniques focus on age-appropriate development.
Traditional Parenting Vs Gentle Parenting
In traditional parenting, when a child does something good or shows good behavior, you reward them with treats and positive feedback. On the other hand, if they do something bad or misbehave, you spank or punish them. However, gentle parenting improves self-assessment and helps them understand their own behavior. Instead of punishing and rewarding, parents try to understand their behavior and teach them the outcomes. The whole idea is to be more like a coach rather than a punisher.
Let’s take this scenario: you’re getting ready for work and you must drop your child off at school on the way but they’re throwing temper tantrums. You worry that you might be late to work.
The Traditional Parenting Approach
A traditional parenting style might teach you to school or yell and there’s a lot of negativities. You will focus on your kid’s actions and the feeling of frustration. By scolding and yelling you are instilling a sense of fear in your kid and you both feel anxious and angry. Your kid will obey you at that moment because of the authority you impose however, their behavior is likely to happen again.
Outcome: Kids often fail to understand good and bad. They stop their behavior just because they receive a command from their parents. They might stop the behavior for a moment but will continue to repeat it unless you explain why.
The Gentle Parenting Approach
In gentle parenting techniques, you will stay calm and firm before getting ready and leaving the house. You will not set any expectations. Instead of yelling with a negative tone, you will talk to your child. You will get down to their eye level and talk calmly. You will explain that you need to leave on time and you expect him/her to be ready. You will also explain the consequences of being late and how you will feel if they don’t get ready. You will also explain why you must leave early.
When you follow this approach, you show empathy and respect toward how your child is feeling. You also give them a chance to analyze their feeling and behavior and hold themselves accountable. You need to set up expectations in advance and plan how to respond if your child exhibits negative behavior.
Outcome: By remaining calm and composed, you give your kids an opportunity to turn their behavior. Instead of arguing, they start to realize the importance. Kids try to exhibit good behavior because they feel responsible for their actions.
Gentle parenting is about pausing, teaching, and being patient. Instead of yelling and screaming, you help kids to understand what’s happening. It might sound interesting to an extent but it can be challenging for parents when conflict happens and you’re angry and want to respond right away.
The Pros and Cons of Gentle Parenting Techniques
Gentle parenting requires you to think about raising kids in a unique way. You need to learn to handle conflict and expectations.
Kids Learn Empathy
Gentle parenting focuses on ‘feelings.’ It teaches them how their actions can affect or impact their feelings. For example, you will tell kids that you will be hurt if they waste food.
Gentle Parenting Motivates Parents
In a traditional parenting approach, you focus only on correcting the bad behavior of kids. Whereas in gentle parenting, you teach them good behavior. You work along with your kid to motivate them and figure out strategies that work out for them. For example, if the kid is struggling to pass a ball, instead of yelling at them, you try to figure out how to help them improve their skills to pass a ball.
Gentle parenting requires a lot of patience and motivation from the parents.
- Your child takes time to process their emotions and behavior.
- You must spend a lot of time and have patient enough to work together.
This parenting approach can be difficult for working parents as you need to spend a lot of time with your kids patiently to help, question, analyze, and process their behavior.
Parents Have to Unlearn a Lot of Things
You need to analyze your own triggers. You cannot mirror the parenting skills of your parents. You must stop and realize how you want to approach your kid’s behavior and tantrums and try gentle parenting techniques that work for both.
You Will Still Be Authoritative
Gentle parenting isn’t about being a friend to your son or daughter. It is a misleading thought. You will still be authoritative while helping your kid to do whatever they want to do. You will still stop them when they are wrong and teach them good habits and behavior. Gentle parenting techniques involve mutual understanding and respect.
How to Have a Successful Gentle Parenting Experience?
- Discuss it with family, friends, school, colleagues, and neighbors.
- Stay calm and always remain positive.
- Be prepared for negative behavior and breakdowns.
- Be consistent and never give up.
- Work together as a team and find solutions together.
When and How to Start Implementing Gentle Parenting Techniques in Real Life?
Getting Ready to Go Out
If your child starts throwing tantrums, explain why he/she should go out now and why it is important to leave home now. Learn effective solutions to wipe out kids whine. You should tell your kid ahead of time explaining the behavior you expect. You can tell your kid to pack their bags, put on their shoes, and bring their favorite item along.
Restricting Screen Time
Ending screen time through gentle parenting techniques can be quite challenging. You should begin by discussing the amount of time allowed and why they should stop after the specified time. You can also encourage your kid to set an alarm themselves.
It can be stressful for parents to handle toddlers in public. Before you go, you can tell your kid how they should behave (for example, at a supermarket) and why it is important for them to stay close to you. Tell them the importance of safety outdoors while paying attention to their feelings. Reach to their eye level and calmly remind them of your expectations and do not scare or threaten them.
Your Kids Want to Buy Something
A trip to the supermarket can end up in an argument with your kid about what you are and aren’t buying. Your priority is to make sure your child learns how to handle the situation and teach them why you aren’t buying it. Give them valid reasons and acknowledge that you’ve heard what they would like but you cannot help them with it right now. Try to offer a distraction and remain calm throughout the conversation.
Leaving a Playdate or Park
It can be very difficult to tell your kid that the fun is over and it’s time to go home. It is not always an easy thing to do. You should discuss your expectations ahead of time. You should set an alarm and remind them at every interval. It is important to make a note of their feeling. Empathize with them and tell them how hard it is to leave and why it’s time to go. Reassure them that their feelings are normal and it’s a part of life. You don’t have to lie.
Not Following Proper Eating Habits
Routines are helpful in implementing gentle parenting techniques. You can teach your child the importance of mealtime, eating healthy food, and family time. Talk to them about their day, build a conversation, and allow kids to help with the dishes. You can also encourage them to plan and prepare meals.
Similarly, you can try gentle parenting techniques to follow a bedtime routine, teach them good manners, and so on. Every child is different and no parenting style is perfect. Gentle parenting may not always work so it is up to you to try and follow different strategies and ensure you acknowledge your child’s feelings. Give them choices to celebrate and enjoy parenting.