By Angelica Bottaro
I’m not too up-to-date on parenting trends because I have yet to walk that plank—or embark on that magical journey. You can choose to see it as whichever euphemism makes you the most comfortable.
Kids, to me, are challenging little humans that I couldn’t see myself possibly handling anytime soon. I’m sure many parents have felt like this at some point before they decided to bring a new life into this world. The fact that most—if not all of us—have felt a little terrified at the thought of having kids just goes to show how difficult being a parent actually is.
You bring an entirely new life into this world, and then by some miracle, have to make sure that they not only survive but grow up to be thriving, well-adjusted and good functioning adults. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety!
For those of you that have taken the plunge into parenting—kudos to you—you may still wonder if your approach to parenting is optimal for their development as human beings. Well, a new parenting trend hitting all the mommy blogs is gentle parenting. I’m going to tell you what it is, how it works, and if you like what you see, how you, too, can become a gentle parent.
What Is Gentle Parenting?
As the name suggests, it is a way of parenting your child in a peaceful, calm, and positive way. It is a far cry from the traditional ‘old school style where what mom and dad say goes, and if you don’t like it, well, tough. That authoritarian style was way out of fashion even before the term gentle parenting became such a widespread thing. With this approach, you adapt your mindset to be empathic, respectful, and understanding towards your child and their experiences as they grow from tiny humans into the people they’re destined to be.
Basically, when you use gentle parenting to raise your children, you use guided positivity and patience to help them make the right choices. The main goal is to nurture your child in a way that allows them to be themselves in a safe space without fear of getting in trouble for finding their own way in the world. It asks you to understand the reason behind your child’s behaviour so that you can work with them towards a positive solution to any and all problems that may arise. You have to trash the ego, so to speak, so that you aren’t personally offended every time your child acts in a way that you don’t like or understand.
What Are Its Guiding Principles?
It’s easy to say be more empathetic, respectful, and understanding of your child. To dive into detail, though, gentle parenting asks that the parent and the child work as a team while exploring this new adventure together. Some basic principles of gentle parenting include:
- Observing your child’s natural rhythms and following them
- Mutual respect, allowing for both parent and child to lead
- Allowing your child to have control over some aspects of their own lives in a respectful way
- Treating bad behaviour as an unmet need as opposed to an action that needs to be punished
- Avoiding shallow and unnecessary praise and rewards
- Understanding that your child’s brain is immature and undeveloped and lowering your expectations to their level
- Respecting your child’s individuality
- Allowing your child to set boundaries for themselves for their own wellbeing
- Treating your child as their own person as opposed to an extension of you in a way that allows them to have their own thoughts, feelings, likes, and dislikes
- Watching for your child’s cues when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and the like instead of sticking to a strict routine
Now, some of you may be reading this and thinking that it sounds like a bunch of hokey new-age nonsense. However, an article published in Popular Science has found some basis for this parenting style. In fact, gentle parenting is pretty good for a child’s development.
Putting It In Practice
Making the switch might not be the easiest transition. Still, if you are interested in dipping your toes into this style of parenting, all you have to do is slow down, take a deep breath, and remember to:
- Be empathetic: Put yourself in your child’s shoes as a way to feel what they’re feeling.
- Be respectful: Let go of the “earned respect” mentality and treat your child the way you would any other person in your life that you care about.
- Practice Understanding: Understand that a child’s brain does not have the same comprehension that yours does. They cannot control their behaviour quite as well as us adults, so understand that, when they’re acting out, it might be because they can’t fully articulate their needs.
Gentle parenting seems to be where it’s at when it comes to the future of raising children. Try it out; what’s the worst that could happen?