Gentle Parenting is the idea that parents treat their kids with respect. The adults make all their decisions out of love and empathy for their child, and discipline in a kind and helpful way rather than being manipulative or vengeful.
But on a recent post entitled, “How To Do Gentle Parenting Without Pandering To Your Kids”, someone left a very honest and important comment. She agreed with all the information in the post, but she struggled putting it into practise.
“This is how I’d like to parent… but I sometimes become a shouty Mum and hate myself for it.”
— Comment on Lucy At Home
Let me be completely honest with you; this is a trap that everyone falls into. Nobody is perfect and life can be stressful. Children are not predictable and can do things that really wind us up. We all resort to shouting at one time or another.
Listen carefully as I speak these words: It. Is. Okay.
You are worthy too
Because you see, in that exact post, I quoted this definition of parenting:
“Gentle parents have one thing in common: their choices are all made out of respect and empathy for their children, as well as themselves.”
— The Gentle Parenting Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
So choices are made out of respect and empathy for the parents as well!
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you don’t matter anymore. It doesn’t mean that you are the lowest priority. Gentle parenting is not just about treating children with respect; it’s about treating everyone with respect (yourself included!).
You need to be gentle with yourself too, looking out for your own mental and physical well-being. And that means giving yourself a break when you make mistakes.
Be gentle with yourself
As gentle parents, when our children get angry, do we tell them that are horrible? Do we point the finger and say that we are ashamed to be their parents? Do we spend the next few hours torturing them with reminders of how they messed up? No, no and no!
- acknowledge that their anger was triggered by something frustrating
- lovingly accept anger as a valid emotion
- create a safe space for them to express their feelings
- explain that anger is normal but that lashing out is not acceptable
- give them time to calm down
- find out the root cause and encourage them to solve the problem (together if requested)
- assure them that we are there and ready to comfort them as soon as they are ready
- move on once the issue has been dealt with
This is exactly the same process you need to go through for yourself too. When Shouty Mum appears, something must have happened to trigger her.
You may have been surviving on broken sleep for years. Perhaps you’re going through a difficult situation in your personal life or at work. It might be that you’re overworked and just need a break. Maybe you don’t even know what the cause is – just feel “off it” today.
It. Is. Okay.
Getting angry is normal – it doesn’t make you a bad mum.
Yes – go and apologise if you need to, but then move on and wipe the slate clean. You don’t need to beat yourself up about it. Be gentle with yourself just as you are gentle with your children.
Be gentle with yourself so your children will learn to be gentle
I started gentle parenting because I wanted my children to know that they were loved and valued. I didn’t want them to think that it was okay for other people to put them down or humiliate them. I saw that the best way to teach that was to be an example of kindness and respect in my dealings with them every day.
But it takes more than just being gentle mum-to-child. We need to demonstrate these values mum-to-self too.
We need to show our children that we respect ourselves and we believe ourselves worthy of respect by others. We need them to see us forgive ourselves and move on so that they can learn to let go of their mistakes too. It is our job to demonstrate perseverance-despite-mistakes because that’s a life lesson that they are going to need.
In many ways, it’s easier to be kind to others than it is to be kind to ourselves. But that’s why our children need to see both – so that they learn to be kind to others and themselves.
So to all the mamas out there – don’t beat yourself up when you fall short. Don’t give up when you feel like you’re failing. Be gentle with yourself, for your own sake and for the sake of the kids who look up to you.
Do you sometimes fall into the trap of being “shouty mum”? Do you have any tips for staying calm? Are you good at being gentle with yourself or is it something you struggle with? Let me know in the comments section below (and you never know – your comment may end up inspiring a new blog post, like this one!)
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