The 3 Core Principles Of Gentle Parenting


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:

  1. Respect
  2. Disciple
  3. Empathise

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

core principles of gentle parenting - child making ripples in the water with a stick

What are the core principles of gentle parenting?

1. Respect

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.

WHY?

  • Because all humans are equal
  • To demonstrate the core values of kindness and teamwork

core principles of gentle parenting - shaft of light through a forest

2. Disciple

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.

WHY?

  • To show that each individual is responsible for their own choices and behaviour
  • To guide children into responsible adults who understand right and wrong

Core principles of gentle parenting - children on a muddy path

3. Empathise

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.

WHY?

  • To develop emotional intelligence and maturity
  • To build self-esteem

the core principles of gentle parenting are respect empathy and discipleship - children with their grandparentsGentle 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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15 Comments

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  1. 5
    Liberty Henwick

    I always love your parenting advice Lucy, you hit the nail on the head every time, particularly in this piece about the self-discipline and sacrifce that’s needed to be consistent. I just wish I could remember these pointers when I’m totally exasperated but like you said, we make mistakes too and the main thing is to keep striving to show respect and empathy to our kids so that we equip them to become kind and well liked adults. #blogcrush

  2. 6
    Kate

    Love this post and your others and am starting to feel I understand gentle parenting. Even better I think I have done in most of the time not even knowing I was doing it but just following my instincts on how to parent. Also I note how my husband struggles so much with this approach and how this impacts on our relationship and has done over the years. However, it also made me think about how we can take some of these lessons and use them with our partners too. Thank you. #BlogCrush

  3. 7
    Heather Keet

    I can’t even begin to tell you how distressing it is to see a child screamed at or humiliated. If you wouldn’t do it to an adult, you should not do it to a child. And if someone does treat adults that way, they need to seek help! Thank you for teaching people there are better ways. #BlogCrush

  4. 8
    Carmela

    Thank you for explaining what gentle parenting is. I like what you said about helping children experience a wide range of emotions. When we stop them from feeling their authentic feelings, we stop them from being true to themselves. #BlogCrush

  5. 11
    Tracey Carr

    I love this article Lucy and your overall approach to parenting. I try so hard to adopt these principles with my daughters. I don’t know how well I am doing it but I try! I have especially learned so much from my four year old daughter and how much you get back from just listening to her. Sometimes when she is acting out like earlier today, shouting and pushing her little sister I will call her over and give out that this is not acceptable and has to stop. She then bursts into tears and says ‘Mum I’m tired’ and I know immediately that what she needs is to sit down. So instead of having a blazing row with her we sit it out and watch some tv because I know that’s what she needs. Don’t get me wrong I do mess up sometimes, especially when I am tired but I’m trying all the time…it definitely makes me a happier mum. #blogcrush

  6. 12
    Lisa Pomerantz

    You have been so helpful, Lucy, in handling the harder times our kids throw our way. I try to strive to be a gentle parent, and thank for letting us know its okay to mess up! Parent Fail! I do get right back on the gentle bandwagon. I so look forward to these posts! xoxo #blogcrush xoxo

  7. 13
    Daydreams of a Mum

    I am very fond of the concept that once an issue has been dealt with it’s left in the past not continually brought up again. Like I often say with your posts I think we’d all do weel to use these guidlines when dealing with anyone, not just necessarily children . Respect and Empathy are qualities that if we all worked on a little could make the world a kinder , nicer place to be #blogcrush

  8. 15
    Carol Cameleon

    You’re right, this is much harder than it sounds and I think respect is possibly the most important one for me. Giving your children the respect they deserve is so important and very often I have to tell myself this! No one said it was going to be easy…! #blogcrush

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