What is gentle parenting?

You may have heard the term ‘gentle parenting’ in the media, or in your parenting network; you may even practice ‘gentle parenting’ subconsciously. This blog is going to discuss the definition of the gentle parenting approach, including the four pillars it comprises and the three c’s of gentle parenting to understand this style a little better.

Patient, calm and punishment-free may not always be the top three words that pop into your mind when you think of your beautiful children and your approach to parenting them every day; however more and more of us are naturally evolving our parenting style to adopt this evidence-based approach and focusing on empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.

As a forty-something year old parent, I was not raised in a collaborative style with my parents, I do not recall them respecting my opinions or empowering me to feel through and embrace my emotions in a healthy way. I don’t say this with any judgement or criticism of my parents style….it was simply a different era and they had different ways and means.

But as I became a parent, my instinct was and continues to be to make the effort to understand my children, enable them to feel the feels they are experiencing and respect where they are at, at any given point in the day, week or month. Without even knowing what gentle parenting was initially, I was trying to parent in a peaceful, positive way…to benefit my child, but found it also serves me. I have always been self-aware and self-reflective; and to create this example for my little ones has meant they understand their emotions and how to express them in a healthy way more often than not. They are not only permitted to have emotions, they are empowered to express their feelings in a safe way. In turn we find, not always, but mostly they are happy and confident in their own shoes. For me, I innately never like to scream incessantly, repeat myself 50 times, or feel exhausted at the end of the day following countless arguments with my children. So, this was my answer.
Now I understand this approach has a name and is based on evidence and research, let’s explore gentle parenting further…
Gentle Parenting is based on four main elements – empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries – and focuses on fostering the qualities you want in your child by being compassionate and enforcing consistent boundaries. Children love routine, so it makes logical sense to me that consistency in our style of parenting and approach to raising our children daily is going to have a beneficial outcome. Gentle Parenting is a means of parenting without shame, blame or punishment. It is centered on partnership as both parents and children have a say in this collaborative style.
We try to have a fair balance between ‘rules’ (such as using your manners and personal hygiene like washing hands after toileting or before eating) with leniency such as enjoying a piece of dark chocolate after breakfast (who says dessert is not meant for breakfast time).

I have also come to learn about the three C’s…connection, communication and consistency; and that these three actions flow through the practices of gentle parenting. My understanding is, and again my logical brain tells me, the more connected you are with your child, the more likely they will behave in a way that is desirable. Good communication and gentle consistent boundaries help to build this vital connection.

There is no magic formula in parenting, we all know this to be true, but this approach empowers both parent and child with a willingness and choice rather than demands and rules instated by parents.


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