As a parent you’re faced with a number of choices on 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 not – the choices are endless. Only you know what is best for you and your family. The way you choose to parent your child, helps to shape the kind of adult they will eventually become. Most of us were raised with either a belt, a shoe or anything that was within reach for our parents and we turned out okay. Our parents would do anything to instil the fear of death within us. Times have changed and so have child protection laws, does that mean we should consider different parenting styles from our parents?
There’s a great emphasis on gentle and positive parenting at the moment. I did a bit of research to gain more insight on this “new” parenting style.
What is Gentle Parenting?
According to the parenting experts, it is “parenting with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries”. It aims to teach children empathy, self-control and calmness. There are misconceptions that gentle parenting involves letting your children run wild with no boundaries, 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. You would not shout at an adult and neither would you force them to eat the broccoli that they begged you not to dish up for them.
What makes it different 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 Corner or time-outs. Gentle Parenting doesn’t believe that any specific behaviour is “bad”, rather that it is about an unmet need. For example, your 2-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. So no punishment and no rewards. Advocates of gentle parenting say that rewards and punishment do not encourage children to internalise good behaviour for its own sake. It teaches children to behave in a certain way for a reward or to avoid punishment.
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.
Is it for me?
Whether you employ Gentle Parenting techniques or sway more towards traditional parenting, the choice is yours. Personally, I believe a combination of both gentle and traditional parenting is a healthy mix for my family. For instance, I believe that children need to be disciplined, in a loving manner. I love the idea of not shouting at my kids, let’s be honest shouting only alienates them from us. I am willing to try some of these techniques but with great caution, I’m not completely sold. Although there are aspects of gentle parenting that resonate with me.
How ever you choose to raise your family, make sure that you always remain consistent. Remember, parenting is a continuous learning journey.