You may have heard of “gentle parenting” before. You might have heard people making fun of it or praising it. But what exactly is it? It’s a philosophy of parenting that focuses on encouraging independence and a close relationship between the parent and child.
The basis of gentle parenting is to work on building relationships, having the kind of relationship with your child where you can both be fully honest and transparent. The 5 pillars of gentle parenting are:
- Bonding: A goal of gentle parenting is to, instead of the parent imposing limits on the child, have the child develop the maturity and insight to do it herself. In order to do that, a parent needs to take time to learn about the child and to teach the child about herself. This parenting method requires a lot of one-on-one time.
- Autonomy and choice: A child who is being raised using gentle parenting also needs space to make his own mistakes. A child’s autonomy is respected and given the freedom to screw up sometimes. When the child inevitably messes up, the parent then discusses with the child to help brainstorm solutions to problems, rather than punishments, for bad behavior.
- No punishments: In gentle parenting, the idea is that instead of punishing a child, a parent would give her a safe space (either a timeout corner with a journal or on a parent’s lap, whatever is best for the child) to think about what went wrong and how she would like to fix it. This could include solving the problem or making it up to someone she has hurt.
- Praise: In gentle parenting, and really any parenting, the parent needs to be sure to catch the child being good. Let him know when he is doing the right thing. Praise helps as much, if not more than, punishment in changing a child’s behavior. This is true, regardless of the parenting method you choose.
- Allow children to have a voice in the parenting process: The final pillar of the gentle parenting method is to give children control over their lives. For example, when told to clean her room, a parent using gentle parenting explains why it’s important to clean and gives the child the freedom to decide what clean looks like. What box does a particular toy belong in? Also, she can have input in what the rules are. What is a reasonable bedtime? When does she want to finish her homework?
In the gentle parenting method, you are still the parent, but the child is respected as a person. The idea is that this style of parenting will help the child develop his own sense of right and wrong so without the parent’s input, he knows what to do. The child will feel better about himself because he is listened to and respected. The parent will feel better because she isn’t always yelling and punishing. Gentle parenting can be a great option for parents looking at different ways to raise their kids.
By Bethanie Ryan