Parenting has got very scientific of late. Very involved. There are theories. And experts. And a plethora of gadgets and toys and equipment. One of the latest specialised theories is called Gentle Parenting. Although it may seem new, its advocates say that it has been around as long as parenting has. This is what you need to know about it:
What is Gentle Parenting?
According to the Gentle Parenting website, it is “parenting with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries”. There are misconceptions that gentle parenting involves letting your children run riot without respect, but this is not at all the case. This parenting method advocates treating your children as individuals and respecting their opinions in the same way you would treat an adult.
How does it differ from traditional parenting?
More traditional parenting places the parents in control, with the child having little say over the way their lives are run. It also employs specific disciplining methods, such as the Naughty Step or time-outs and a system where good behaviour is praised and rewarded with objects such as treats.
Gentle Parenting doesn’t believe that any specific behaviour is “bad”, rather that it is about an unmet need. For example a two-year-old’s tantrum may have little to do with a toy they aren’t allowed to have and may be more of a cry for his parent’s attention. Filling this need by deepening the connection with your child is what Gentle Parenting advocates, rather than punishing the child by placing them in timeout and ignoring them.
Mainstream parenting also follows a sequence of commonly accepted developmental milestones for everything from eating to walking to speaking, but with Gentle Parenting, every child is viewed as unique, and should develop at their own pace.
What are the benefits?
Employing Gentle Parenting techniques can make parenting a toddler a more joyful and playful experience and can prevent parenting burnout. It also ensures a deep connection between parent and child that will last and last. Children raised by “Gentle Parents” are also apparently more empathetic and grow into loving and respectful adults.
So, is it for you?
As a parent you’re faced with a number of choices in how you bring up your child. From how they are brought into the world, to whether to breastfeed or not, to whether you want to co-sleep or put them in their own bed – the choices are endless. Only you know what is best for you and your family, so whether you employ Gentle Parenting techniques or sway more towards mainstream parenting, the choice is up to you.