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What Is Gentle Parenting and Does It Work?

Navigating first-time parenthood is one of the most challenging periods you and your partner will experience. Going through the trials and tribulations of parenthood is not something you have to do alone. Discovering different methodologies when it comes to parenting is crucial! This way, you can compare and contrast different styles to decide what works best for you and your lifestyle. In order to learn more about gentle parenting, keep reading.

So, What is Gentle Parenting? 

Gentle parenting is essentially a technique that implements the middle ground of many other parenting styles and combines them. Instead of being too loose like lax parenting, gentle parenting offers structure and guidelines for children. Rather than being overbearing like helicopter parenting, gentle parenting allows a child to make their own choices without fear of penalty. This creates a very effective and very middle-of-the-road parenting style.

child laying in bed with parent tucking them inFamilies that utilize gentle parenting work as a unit to ensure each member is reaching their full potential. The ultimate goal of this parenting style is to raise confident, self-sufficient, and happy children, with happiness being an absolute key. 

Ways to Implement Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting relies heavily on the four main elements: understanding, empathy, boundaries, and respect. Each aspect of your parenting should draw on all four of these elements in order to effectively be a gentle parent—including discipline. Try out a few of these methods to see how gentle parenting can fit into your life. 

  • Discipline the action, not the person: Misbehaving is a natural part of life. No one can avoid it, and those who practice gentle parenting are no exception. You can, however, control your response to misbehavior. For example, if your child told a lie, be sure to place negative emphasis on the action of lying. Let them know lying is a bad thing and should not be done. Do not tell your child that they are a bad person for telling a lie. Everyone makes mistakes, but it does not define you. 
  • Ask, do not command: No one responds well to demands, including children. Instead of telling your child to put away their laundry, ask them if they would be willing to clean up their bedroom. This empowers your child to take action into their own hands. It also lets them feel like they are in control of their lives, something everyone can appreciate.  
  • Reinforce positive behavior: Applauding your child’s good behavior is so much more effective than punishing the bad ones. This is not to say that you ignore the bad behaviors. If something needs correcting, then you should definitely do so. However, do not ignore the good things your child does as well. This reinforces that positive behavior will be rewarded. 

Does it Work?

Well, the short answer to this question is “It depends.” Each parent-child relationship is different based on your own personality. Parenting is a difficult balance to learn, and if you have more than one child, you may need to develop more methods for each of your kids.

That being said, gentle parenting offers many benefits that other parenting styles do not. For example, gentle parenting is a technique with the least amount of adverse effects on a child’s mental health. While there could be drawbacks depending on how your child reacts, gentle parenting appears to have very few immediate flaws. 

The most important thing to keep in mind while parenting is that everything will work out in the end. Some days will be incredibly difficult, but the payoff of seeing your child flourish is worth it all. If you, your partner, or your child feel they could benefit from seeking therapy to discuss some of their issues, I encourage you to do so. Feel free to contact us about family counseling.