Everything you need to know about Gentle Parenting and why it works
Sometimes we do things without much thought, and realize later on that it wasn’t the best decision. We often believe that in order to discipline a child one must reprimand the child for their bad behavior.
Over the last five years, I have been discovering my very own parenting style and I am not going to lie and say it’s easy, and that I am this perfect mom that never yells at her kids, etc. No. No. I have done that. I have yelled before, I’ve snapped, I’ve lost my shit and had my own meltdowns too. But, I have been rediscovering my parenting style, and looking for ways that are effective. It’s been a heck of a rollercoaster trying to figure out what’s the best way to parent, and even yet, what’s the most effective way. And, what I have learned (overall) is that gentle parenting truly works the best for us. And, what I should say is that it’s not the definition of gentle parenting that I was trying to enforce, it’s everything else that I was doing that defined gentle parenting. Does that make sense? The things I found that worked for us, the different scenarios replayed over and over again, and so much more.
For example, when they are having a meltdown instead of telling them to simply stop crying, the me now asks: “Why are you crying” and tries to resolve it then and there so we can move on peacefully from that moment. The me before would say: “Stop crying. Stop. That. Now.” Which, not only made them behave even worse and cry even more.
Usually they are crying for a reason (maybe not a valid reason to us, but to them yes), and if you talk to them it can be resolved.
What is gentle parenting?
When you think of gentle parenting don’t assume that there is no discipline, or that there are no consequences for bad behavior. Gentle parenting, in my eyes, is a way to build a relationship with your little ones while disciplining them through play and interaction. It’s a way to build a bond with them without bruising their little heart. The way you talk to them is the way they will talk to you.
Gentle parenting focuses on positive parenting. Rather than reprimanding a child for their bad behavior, you need to figure out why they are misbehaving. Often times, they are misbehavor is a way of communicating their feelings to you, and an unmet need. Gentle parenting talks about giving your child respect that you expect from them. They are tiny humans, and although you are the parent, you should pay attention how you interact with them. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if they return the favor. Remember – the worse they feel, the worse they behave. I’ve been reminding myself of this constantly as I work through my own struggles of parenting.
Rewards and punishment are short lived
I have also found that rewards and punishment are only short lived, and don’t help with child’s development in the future. In fact, whenever I would reward one of them for doing something, they only did it for the reward. And while that was great at the moment, it was also obvious that they wouldn’t do it again unless they were rewarded. It was very short lived. I started to wonder about other ways we could make this work. After all, they are just kids.
Give them a choice not a command
I have also found that when you give a child a choice, rather than a command it works much better. I used to always say, let’s brush our teeth now, and they would always come back with something to put it off. They’d want to finish playing, or want to finish coloring, etc. But, when I rephrased the same question and would say, “Do you want to brush your teeth now or after you put on your pajamas?”, I got a more of a positive response from them and they would pick when they will brush their teeth. Gentle parenting talks about giving your children a choice, rather than a command.
There is a similar post on how to say “No” to your child without saying “No” on the blog. You can read it here.
Negotiating limits with your kids has been proven to work for us
Another aspect of gentle parenting is negotiating limits. What I mean by that is when we are at the park, instead of saying let’s go home now, I say you have two more slides and we need to go. That has worked way better than when I command them. And, to be honest without even knowing the true definition of gentle parenting I have seem to figure out that in fact it was the best parenting style for us. It allows you to work with your child and include them in a decision.
Gentle parenting requires a lot of self control
One thing that makes it really hard is that gentle parenting requires A LOT of self-control in parents, because you have to step back and think rather than react. You have to think, “Why is my child doing this?”, “What are they communicating with this behavior?”, and “What can I do differently for next time?”. This is a lot of work, and why I say it’s hard. We often react way before we think, and I am so guilty of it. But, I am learning and that’s what parenthood/motherhood is all about – learning, improving, trying, hustling, etc. I know we are always doing our best.
I wrote a similar post, Do you react or respond to your kids? last year.
Gentle parenting over permissive and authoritarian parenting for me
I have just found that this way of parenting works way better for all of us, and we (I) are (am) less stressed. And, by no means am I saying that I am a perfect parent and follow all aspects of gentle parenting. No, not all. What I am saying is that I have found this style of parenting to work really well. There is so much more to gentle parenting that I am not exclusively doing it all, but I am finding ways that work for us. I would say a lot of what I do falls under the category of gentle parenting. There is not one way to be a good mother, but a million ways.
I may have to respond to each one in a unique way but that doesn’t change my style of gentle parenting
All three of my children are very different from one another, and not just by age but by personality too. I may have to respond to each one in a unique way to them, but I have learned that my style of guiding, respecting, connecting, listening and encouraging does not change. It’s definitely a whole another approach when it comes to even our culture and how we were raised, so I am learning but I have always said I was very open minded and willing to learn. That’s exactly what I am doing. I can yell at them and tell them they need to do something, and they probably will but that just creates an unpleasant dynamic between us that leads to nowhere. And, honestly I have done it that way too and just don’t like it. I want more peace, more kindness around and feel like gentle parenting fits in way better. I want them to love me, respect me and be kind to me because they want to and not because I force them.
I don’t believe in forcing a child to hug someone as a way to say “bye” if they don’t feel it in them
This also goes hand in hand with forcing children to give someone a hug as a “good bye/see you later” or as a “hello” and I don’t agree with that. I feel as the child should be able to choose themselves if they want to hug someone. After all, if they like you they will likely give you a hug to say “see you later”. You have to gain a child’s trust, love, respect, etc., if you want it. I am not going to force my child to do something they don’t feel like doing, but at the same time I don’t want them to be rude. So, every time they play with someone and we are leaving, I tell them to say “bye” and/or wave at their “friend” to be nice. And, they never give me a hard time about that.
Do we all just parent differently?
Often times we say everyone parents the way they feel is right for them, and that’s true. What made me think more into this is the fact that some parents are unaware of any other parenting style than the one they are using. So, instead of saying this is the best way to parent, with this post I just want to make you aware of another way we can parent.
Thank you so much for your support always, and for stopping by to read.
I would love to know what parenting style you prefer and why? Leave in the comments.
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