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Gentle parenting

What is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle parenting, sometimes referred to as calm or respectful parenting, is an evidence-based approach to raising happy, independent, confident children. This is my favourite way to parent, even though I sometimes find it hard - especially the boundaries bit!

 

Gentle/ Respectful parenting is composed of four main elementsempathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries—and focuses on fostering the qualities you want in your child by being compassionate and enforcing consistent boundaries. Unlike permissive parenting, gentle parenting encourages age-appropriate responses that teaches valuable life lessons. It is all about connecting with the child and working together as a family to find solutions. 

It is also about allowing children to express their feelings. Gentle parenting focuses on a child's cognitive state, and encourages the parent to be curious about what is really going on for the child, understand the stage of their development - and the limitations of what can be expected. At the same time, it's about firmly but kindly holding boundaries.  Gentle parents tend to model their own behavior around their children based on what they expect to see from them, while at the same time acknowledging they have their own triggers and limitations. So when things don't go to plan, it's about repairing, owning mistakes and learning from them together.

How is this different to permissive and authoritarian parenting?

Gentle parenting is very different from permissive parenting, where parents often opt out of disciplining a child altogether, while gentle parents 'discipline' using age-appropriate tactics, curiosity and understanding. Even though permissive parents will often have a very positive bond with their children (at least on the surface), they often struggle with situations that require setting boundaries. And although this may seem the easier way (and sometimes it is!), gentle parenting recognises the need that children have for boundaries. They are the 'guardrails' that keep children safe and knowing what to expect and when.

 

Gentle parenting offers guidance, empathy, curiosity and support to the child, while also clearly defining boundaries.

Meanwhile, those who practice more rigid parenting styles, such as authoritarian parenting, are far stricter and focus on raising driven, high-achieving kids. As a result, these parents might require their kids to practice skills or study for lengthy periods of time often at the expense of leisurely activities like playdates, sleepovers, and other fun activities. Children of authoritarian parents have been shown to suffer negative consequences due to the high expectations they are expected to meet. These consequences include anxiety, depression, and poor academic performance.

The key gentle parenting principles that I believe in 

 

As with all things parenting, this is a very personal choice and not black and white - there may be times when we are stricter or more lenient; there will be times where our own triggers get in the way of things. But for me, gentle parenting provides a framework that I believe in whole heartedly, particularly around:

  • doing my best to connect with my child before correcting them

  • showing genuine curiosity for what their behaviours, actions or words might be really trying to tell me

  • owning my own mistakes and repairing ruptures

  • when things are tricky, seeing them as an opportunity to grow (and giving myself, my husband and children some grace in the process)

  • working together as a team and respecting and valuing everyone's views and inputs, even if we don't agree

  • understanding that children's brains are still developing (until they are in their 20s!) 

  • allowing all feelings and providing a safe space to learn to (co-) regulate 

  • setting consistent, loving boundaries!

All our products have gentle parenting at the heart: whether this is our PlayTableCloths and DoodleCloths that encourage connection and creative play (as well as a break for parents), or it is our Digital Screens course that promotes building healthier screentime habits, our Coaching sessions to help fellow parents work through specific issues, or our blog that shares regular insights and practical tools.

Whatever stage of parenting journey you are at, if you'd like to learn more about gentle parenting in practice, join our mailing list or our FB community of likeminded fellow parents. 

Let me know what issues you are facing

Fill in the below and I will send you a free customized video with ideas of what you might try in your situation - based on my experience as a coach and gentle parent. 

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