Gentle Parenting: Why Try It?

Gentle Parenting: Why Try It?

When we become parents, we don't always make a conscious decision about our parenting style. A parenting style is frequently passed down from our own childhood experiences. Some people may want to be like their parents in the ways they do things well, while others may look at how they were raised as a model for how not to parent today.

What is gentle parenting?

Gentle parenting is a peaceful and positive parenting style that differs from typical authoritarian 'old school' parenting. It encourages you and your child to work together to make decisions based on internal motivation rather than external constraints. It urges your children to form relationships with you based on their willingness and choices, rather than demands and regulations imposed by you. This parenting style urges you to be conscious of the behavior you model for your child, as well as compassion, acceptance of emotions, and acceptance of the child as a whole, competent human being. 

What are the misunderstandings regarding gentle parenting?

It's common to assume gentle parenting has no boundaries. Parents may be hesitant to adopt a kinder approach because they are worried about losing control. They are concerned that their child may be unable to distinguish what is and is not out of bounds for their own safety and the treatment of others. This is a reasonable worry, but parents should know that gentle parenting doesn't mean there are no rules or limits.

Remember that the purpose of this method is to encourage collaboration between the parent and the child. In place of irrational anger and directives, such as continuously justifying requests with "because I told you so," gentle parents offer messages that not only set limits but also have a long-term influence. Children are being taught that their parents are their partners in keeping them safe, and they are encouraged to learn from the experience.

What is the gentle parenting approach?

Gentle parenting shares some characteristics with the Montessori method, including the motto, "Help me to do it myself." To begin with, both encourage the child to assume personal responsibility. Gentle parenting means encouraging your child toward emotional independence. Children are encouraged to learn about their feelings, and their parents show them how to control their emotions by accepting what they go through.

Adults are used as guides in both gentle parenting and Montessori, rather than authoritative characters who issue arbitrary directives. Both methods emphasize the need for careful observation. We notice what attracts our pupils in Montessori to create a supportive environment. Gentle parents, likewise, pay great attention to how their children react to difficulties and utilize empathy to discern their needs.

What are the elements of gentle parenting?

1. Understanding. To be a gentle parent, you don't need to be an expert on child development, but you do need to establish your expectations according to their age.

The human brain does not reach full maturity until the third decade of life. We should not expect a child to think and feel like an adult until after their twentieth birthday. Their minds are not the same. Their brain functioning means kids don't experience the world the same way we do, and they don't have the same level of control over their behavior, “self-calming” skills, empathy skills, or abstract thinking skills as adults.

Parents must also grasp how their own behavior affects their children in order to practice gentle parenting. When parents use violence, such as hitting, spanking, yelling, biting back, and so on, they are setting an example for their children to follow. Parents that are aggressive (physically or verbally) generate violent children. As a result, changing our own behavior and communication is critical.

2. Empathy. Gentle parents are "mind-minded," which means they raise their children with awareness and consideration of their feelings. When it comes to resolving conflicts, too many parenting approaches focus solely on the parent's sentiments. But research shows that the best way to raise an empathic child, or what most people would call a "nice child," is to show them empathy.

The majority of challenging parenting circumstances develop because the child's needs are misunderstood, owing to the fact that most current parenting methods regard young children as "manipulative" or "naughty." When a parent considers the child's emotions and the fundamental cause of their misbehavior, it becomes clear that the child's behavior is an indication of anguish, unease, anxiety, or fear in most circumstances. Once the real feeling and cause of a behavior have been understood, it may be dealt with, and the thinking behind the "bad behavior" can be extinguished, therefore, eliminating the unpleasant behavior.

When a child is upset or scared, for example, a parent may become curious as to what is causing the child's behavior. They can try to figure out what their child requires at the time and why. Empathy is a great reminder to take it easy and pay attention to what your child is going through.

3. Respect. Most parents expect their children to respect them, but few parents truly respect their children. There are two sides to this equation. When parents respect their children, especially their child's individual emotions and personalities, the child is more inclined to respect the parent. It is hard to get true respect from someone through fear or a power imbalance.

It makes no sense to wish for a child to grow up to be an adult who respects others if they were not shown respect at an early age. Respectful parents demonstrate to their children that they have a choice. Respect is linked to their principles, which will grow when they encounter positive role models. Respecting your child in practice requires replacing harsh demands with compassionate requests and providing invitations for partnership instead of fear-based caution.

4. Boundaries. Many individuals condemn gentle parenting because they believe it is impossible to say no to your children. However, this is really far from the truth. Gentle parenting emphasizes the importance of discipline in parenting. Gentle discipline, on the other hand, is age-appropriate, positive, courteous, empathic, and intellectual.

Discipline literally means "to instruct." Great teachers instill respect, passion, and understanding in their students. Disciplining a child entails instilling in them the qualities you most desire in them. Should you really punish a child for questioning an instruction you offer if you want them to be a free thinker? Positive discipline encourages your child to acquire the characteristics you want them to have as they grow up while also teaching them how to express them in a socially acceptable manner.

Furthermore, gentle parenting isn't opposed to discipline if your child does cross a boundary (which they will, because they're kids).

Gentle discipline, on the other hand, focuses on the child's wrongdoing rather than them as a person ('your friend didn't enjoy it when you stole the toy before they completed playing,' not 'you were rude to steal').

What is the difference between consequences and punishment?

Every child tests the limits and breaks the rules at times. When adults respond positively, children learn to make better decisions in the future. Adult interventions, however, are not all created equal. There's a considerable distinction between consequences and punishments..

Punishment is any behavior that causes a child mental or physical harm. It's a form of coercion used to get your child to obey or do what you want. Punishments are frequently unconnected to the behavior problem and can be harsh. They're sometimes used to disgrace or humiliate children. Punishments frequently make children feel horrible about who they are rather than what they did. Children who struggle with their self-worth are more likely to misbehave in the future. Punishments can also be unproductive since they may lead children to focus on their rage toward their parents rather than on how they might improve their behavior in the future.

Consequences, on the other hand, are the result of an act, whether favorable or negative. If at all feasible, allow natural consequences to occur so that children learn the cause and effect relationship between their actions and consequences. Consequences aim to teach children how to improve their performance in the future. Adults generate them, and they are intimately linked to wrongdoing. Healthy consequences keep kids feeling good about themselves while also giving them hope that they can do better next time.

Parents may need to employ consequences for bad behavior on occasion. Consequences should aim to teach rather than coerce a child, as punishment does.

Seeking help in parenting

Gentle parents must model what it is to be a well-rounded, emotionally healthy adult in order for their children to grow up to be well-rounded, emotionally stable adults. To be a gentle parent, you have to be gentle with yourself as well as your kids. It can be hard to find the right balance between understanding your child's needs and avoiding burnout.

Many times, parents ask us if they should remove the door of their adolescent who is unstable and impulsive. Our first response is “no.” Instead, a.) create safety in the home and particularly in their bedroom. If suicide ideation, overdose or self-injurious behavior are your concerns, work with a professional before removing the door. Gentle parenting believes in boundaries and respect. And b.) The bedroom is a place for sleeping. Homework, entertainment, food, music, etc. should be enforced to be enjoyed in the public areas of the home to create connection, community and deepened respect and empathy for one another. 

If you or a loved one has encountered a parenting challenge and want additional support, then call Solstice Pacific. A little extra nudge or “keep going” encouragement might be just what you need. Do not hesitate to contact us through our website or text us at (949) 200-7929. To help us get to know you better, you may also take this quick assessment and verify your insurance.

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