Gentle parenting is on the rise, and you’re probably wondering exactly “What is it?” Gentle-Parenting focuses on a parent-child relationship based off positive encouragement and your child’s willingness and choices. That is contrary to the other traditional parenting styles with focus on demands, rules, and punishment. Gentle-Parenting uses positivity and patience instead.
Some experts, such as Sarah Ockwell-Smith the author of The Gentle Parenting Book states that gentle parenting is more a way of being rather than doing. It isn’t about specific methods but rather a change in thinking.The four key principles of gentle-parenting are: empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries.
It is key to be aware and considerate of your child’s feelings. Most parenting styles only focus on the parent’s feelings (especially when solving problems) but parents must also be empathetic to the child’s feelings. Many times people think children are being “naughty” instead of a behavior being a sign of: anxiety, fear, or distress. It is important to identify the true reason for bad behavior instead of writing it off.Respect
Gentle parenting has a big focus on mutual respect. Respect should not be demanded, but rather earned. Respecting your child leads to them respecting you, as a parent. It is truly impossible to demand or force respect.
Furthermore, it is important for parents to understand that children are not fully developed (physically, emotionally & psychologically) so they cannot be held to the same standards as adults. Parents must change their idea of what is “normal” or “bad behavior” and instead understand your child as a developing individual.
This is really a change in your expectation. Your expectation for a child to share, sleep through the night, sit quietly, be still, not throw a tantrum, etc. Here biology is key (especially of the brain).
Gentle-parenting also promotes teaching through example. If you yell, spank or hit your child, why would you expect them to act any differently?
Boundaries are important for little ones, and gentle parenting is not equivalent to permissive parenting as many think. Boundaries or rules should be decided but both parents and and involve others caring for your child as well. Fewer rules which you can stick to are better than an exhaustive list of rules that no one will follow.
Boundaries and rules should be limited to things that really matter.
Gentle parenting is not about strict routines but rather following the natural rhythm of your little one. Children seek independence and it is also important to allow them some control over their lives. In gentle-parenting no behavior is recognized as “bad” but rather communication of an unmet need. Praise is best done for effort rather than success, and rewards are seen as superficial and unnecessary. Each child is an individual, so whether you are a parent of more than one little human or find yourself comparing to your friends’ children, it is important to recognize children have individual needs, wants, likes, dislikes, and development speeds.As parents, we are not perfect, no one is. But, the important thing is that we never stop growing and learning as parents. We all want what’s best for our little ones at the end of day. So, end your day with a Storybook massage. Storybook has stories to teach emotions, respect and empathy to your little one, in addition to strengthening your relationship.