GENTLE PARENTING 101
Parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, all of us really have the power to transform the world, by the way we connect, interact and raise the children in our lives.
One quick search on the internet will get you an overwhelming number of articles on parenting. Dos and don'ts. Lists and tricks.Quick solutions. The majority of them will talk about how you can ‘fix’ your child. Well the good news is , your child isn't broken and doesn't need fixing. Society on the other hand , well that's a topic for another time.
Whether you've come across the concept of gentle parenting before or are hearing about it for the first time , here's addressing some very common questions people often have about this way of parenting.
WHAT IS GENTLE PARENTING ?
Gentle parenting also known as peaceful / positive / respectful / conscious / non punitive / non violent parenting keeps relationships and connection at the core.
We begin right at birth , building trust by responding to cries and meeting our baby's needs. Following baby's lead and picking up on their cues.
We respect our children’s autonomy.
All interactions come from a place of compassion, kindness and empathy.
Children deserve the same respect adults feel they deserve - give respect to get respect.
It's parenting for long term therefore offers no easy or quick fixes.
The aim is not to have robots who obey every command but kind and compassionate young people who can think for themselves and are intrinsically motivated to be good humane people.
WHAT ABOUT DISCIPLINE?
The original meaning of the word discipline is ‘Instruction’ , ‘Knowledge’ . So it's safe to say when the word first started being used it referred to guidance more than the punitive connotation it now has.
Gentle parenting staunchly opposes use of punitive methods of discipline including spanking .
Time-in ( step back and process big emotions with parental empathy & support , learn to problem solve ) is a wonderful alternative to the debilitating and harmful practice of time-outs (shaming , isolation , lack of communication and connection )
Natural outcomes(delayed bedtime makes you tired the next day)are the preferred way instead of logical consequences(delayed bed time means no time for story)or unrelated consequences also called punishments(delayed bed time results in the favorite toy or game being taken away for a week)
While logical consequences might seem like a good idea , it can very easily turn into punishments if imposed or accompanied with anger or shaming , making them ineffective means of discipline.
Gentle parenting does not endorse rewards/bribes and threats/ punishments. The goal is behavior that is intrinsic and not forced.
Most teaching is done by modelling the behaviour we want to see in our children .
HOW WILL THEY LEARN ?
Children learn when they are developmentally ready. Just like they don't need any specialised training to walk and talk, only a supportive role model , with the help and gentle guidance of a supportive grown up children will learn to recognize emotions, they will in time (with a lot of practice) learn how to regulate their emotions , how to problem solve and differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
Our role as the adults in their life is to adjust our expectations to align with the ages and developmental stages of our children. And patience and good humor go a long way.
HOW WILL THEY FACE THE REAL WORLD OUT THERE ?
Let's face it, the real world isn't pretty in fact it's pretty broken. Bigotry and hatred is rampant.
The question we need to ask ourselves here is do we want to raise another adult who will just follow the ‘rules’ blindly and invariably become another number to add to the society that is part of the problem ? OR Are we aiming higher ? Do we instead want young minds who can think for themselves, who can recognize and follow boundaries , who are empathic and respect themselves and others and who are not afraid to stand up for humanity .
Gentle parenting raises young hearts who become peaceful ( but not passive ) adults.
WILL THIS NOT STIFLE THEIR INDEPENDENCE ?
Independence is born out of dependence.
Self soothing, self regulation only comes after a child has been soothed over and over again, healthy self regulation can develop under the gentle guidance of grown ups.
When a child’s need for love and connection are met , they feel confident to spread their wings and explore the world knowing that their grown ups will always have their backs.
WILL THIS NOT MAKE THEM SPOILT AND ENTITLED?
Unconditional love is a big part of gentle parenting ( both , towards our children & ourselves ). Showering a little human with love , respect, kindness and empathy DOES NOT spoil them. It allows them to flourish , become empathic and feel secure.
Gentle parenting is not the same as permissive parenting.Boundaries and limits are very much a part of gentle parenting.
Although there's a fine line between domination and partnership. Gentle parenting believes in setting boundaries with empathy, kindness and respect. And in partnership with out children.
ISN'T IT MUCH EASIER AND A SAFER BET TO JUST PARENT THE WAY WE WERE PARENTED ?
Parenting the way we were parented seems like a wise thing to do. After all there's comfort in familiarity.
Let's think back. Most of us were promptly or eventually punished when we toed the line. We are no strangers to the naughty chair / corners. Some of us are even familiar with spanking. Bribes and threats were part and parcel of growing up.And we are all grown ups now. We we turned out ‘fine’ didn't we.
But let's pause for a moment here. Do we want to aim for ‘fine’ ?
Our parents loved us no doubt and they did the very best that they could with the knowledge and resources available to them. And in all probability their own childhood experiences shaped their parenting journey.
We are fortunate to have so much information and support at our fingertips. Our parenting journey does not need to follow the same path our parents and ancestors took.
And no , it's not a disservice to them , choosing to walk a different path.
In fact learning from the past we can prevent history from repeating itself , stop the harmful narratives and toxic practices from being passed onto the next generation.
I'm Dilshad , I live with my husband and our exuberant one year old in Auckland, NZ. Our little family enjoys beach days in the kiwi summer , basking in the winter sun and snuggles all year long.
I am a Bibliophile and a huge Harry Potter fan , some might even use the word 'obsessed '.
Anyone who knows me will know that I have been a passionate advocate of gentle parenting. This cause has long been close to my heart and my little squishy babyZ motivates me to further my passion for gentle parenting activism. I firmly believe that 'it's not only our children who grow , parents do too' and when you know better, you do better.
I have a Facebook page and instagram called ‘The Gentle mamma’ where I share our journey and my thoughts along with gentle parenting memes and articles.
Email : email@example.com
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any queries, would like more information or would just like to chat.
We are all constantly learning, we are all in this together.