GENTLE PARENTING… at best, it’s seen as weak parenting by the snowflake generation; at worst, it’s portrayed as downright lazy. Let me reassure you that both those conclusions are wrong! The core principles of gentle parenting may be different to parenting strategies of the past, but they work.
What is gentle parenting?
There are 3 core principles of gentle parenting – 3 things that all gentle parents should do:
Gentle parenting is the idea that children should be treated with same respect and dignity as adults. Instead of concentrating on the parents’ right to power and authority, gentle parenting suggests a nurturing approach.
Parents are encouraged to listen to their children’s opinions and work in partnership with their kids.
Discipline is to correct children and help them to learn, rather than payback for what they did wrong. This means there is a big emphasis on remaining calm and not lashing out in anger.
It is mindful parenting.
But if you’re still not sure, let me unpack these three core principles even further. In this post, I will:
- Describe the core principles of gentle parenting
- Give some practical examples
- Explain why each principle is important and what we hope to achieve by using it
What are the core principles of gentle parenting?
At the very heart of gentle parenting, you find respect, and all the core principles of gentle parenting stem from this central idea. We believe that children are equal in value to adults – they are not second-rate citizens.
That doesn’t mean they’re ready for the same level of responsibility and decision-making. But it does mean that they should always be treated with dignity.
We treat our children as we would wish to be treated ourselves. So we don’t humiliate them or expect them to obey us blindly, simply because we are in a position of power. We discuss things together and encourage input from them. We try not to shout, and any discipline is given calmly and fairly.
- Because all humans are equal
- To demonstrate the core values of kindness and teamwork
Leading on from this, gentle parents try to step away from punishments. A punishment is like payback for something you did wrong – a kind of revenge.
Instead, we try to guide and disciple our children.
When they do the wrong thing, we tell them how we want them to behave, and we do it explicitly (e.g. we say “Sit still in your chair, please” rather than just yelling, “Behave!”). This gives children a chance to sort the problem themselves.
If they choose to carry on with their behaviour, we calmly carry out consequences. These focus on developing our children rather than penalizing them.
Finally, once the consequence has happened, we explain again how they should have behaved and why, encouraging them to take that approach next time. And then all is forgiven – it is in the past and not brought up again.
- To show that each individual is responsible for their own choices and behaviour
- To guide children into responsible adults who understand right and wrong
And the third of the core principles of gentle parenting is empathy.
We use empathy to really get alongside our children and understand them. We observe them and engage with them to build up mutual trust. And what we learn about our children feeds into how we approach them and develop them.
We appreciate that everybody has off days so we don’t expect our children to be happy 24/7. Instead, we support our children through the good and bad times, coaching them to deal with the whole spectrum of emotions.
We create a culture where it is normal to discuss our feelings and we ensure that home is safe space where our children will be accepted as they are.
- To develop emotional intelligence and maturity
- To build self-esteem
Gentle parenting is hard but worth it!
Gentle parenting takes a lot of self-discipline and sacrifice. Some days we might wish for “the good old days” when it was perfectly acceptable to scream and shout at our kids…!
But try to cling onto the bigger picture.
We are raising a new generation of emotionally intelligent, robust, and rounded individuals. We want them to know their self-worth, look out for their neighbours, and make rational, thoughtful choices.
These characteristics take time to develop.
You can’t yell and bully your child into being a balanced, rounded, caring person – those quick fixes create insecurities and a kindness born of duty rather than empathy. Instead, the core principles of gentle parenting are slowly building a foundation that your child will use for the rest of their lives.
You’ll mess up. We all do! But it’s still worth pursuing. The odd bad week won’t take away from the careful, heart-led, mindful parenting that happens the rest of the time.
You’ve got this!
Sending best wishes to you and yours. Love Lucy xx
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