Gentle parenting focuses on the relationship with the child and fostering a positive relationship and mutual respect between parent and child. It is a term now widely known throughout the parenting community, often for it’s perceived lack of discipline. Because of this, it can be confusing or difficult to understand where to begin with, or know how to implement gentle parenting at home.
Implement Gentle Parenting at Home
There are basic takeaways of gentle parenting that I like to keep in the back of my mind when reacting to, or teaching my children. Two of the most important qualities that I see as crucial to the interactions with my children are empathy and respect. This can take time to practice, and can even feed unnatural, but over time, becomes second nature and has great rewards.
Gentle Parenting is a way of being, it is a mindset, not a label or a rule book. – GentleParenting.co.uk
The Two Principles
Empathy and Respect
Kids are not bad, they might make mistakes and are constantly learning, but it is up to us to teach them how to behave and how to treat others. We can do this through compassion and understanding, and we don’t need punishment and harsh discipline or an authoritarian perspective. Gentle parenting identifies a few main components of what it means to approach kids in this manner. Of these I have chosen two that I find to be integral to implementing gentle parenting, and will briefly discuss them.
We can teach our kids through empathy, respect and love.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. From a parenting perspective, this means using compassion and caring to help our kids see that we care about them, and in turn, help them understand how they should treat others.
For example, if at a play date, your child pushes another child, you could remove them from the situation for a time-out, but what is that teaching them? To be afraid of doing that again? That others won’t want to play with them? This might work to eliminate the behavior, but it doesn’t work to help them empathize with others and show compassion. Instead, by explaining to them that pushing can hurt our friends, or make them sad, and then asking what we can do instead to that we aren’t hurting others, you can really teach.
In approaching parenting by asking ‘how can I show my kids empathy and respect?’, rather than ‘how can I control my kids or get them to act in a certain way’, we allow ourselves a freedom from the stress and guilt parenting can bring. By using these two principles to implement gentle parenting, we can really help shape our kids into the ones they were meant to be.