What is Gentle Parenting?

Last Updated on June 24, 2021 by Michele Tripple

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Gentle Parenting is a style of parenting that focuses on empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries. Find out how this parenting style works and if it would be a good fit for your family!

Gentle Parenting

If you’re like me, the term “gentle parenting” doesn’t seem to explain your style of parenting right now. As much as I try to be a no-yelling parent, that doesn’t always happen when I become frustrated with my kids.

You might have also heard gentle parenting compared with permissive parenting, which tends to have a negative connotation that comes with it. If you’re worried about making parenting mistakes, then you may find that gentle parenting is exactly what will work for you!

Gentle parenting is actually a positive type of parenting that fits under the authoritative parenting category. Similar to conscious parenting, this parenting style mixes high levels of nurturing and warmth with high expectations and boundaries.

Check out these Parenting Styles

What is Gentle Parenting?

All parenting styles can fit under the four main types which are authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, uninvolved parenting, and authoritative parenting. While each of these main styles presents a variety of pros, they each have their cons as well. 

Most people think that gentle parenting fits in with permissive parenting, but it is actually a form of authoritative parenting. Gentle parents are more willing to allow their kids to explore and be free, but this isn’t because they are being permissive. These parents instead pick their battles with more consideration.

One thing we love about gentle parenting is how versatile it is! There are no rules when it comes to lifestyle choices, but everyone involved can reap the amazing benefits from it. Any family can implement this parenting style.

Another thing we love is that this parenting style works to benefit not only the parents but the kids as well! Instead of focusing on making life easier just for Mom and Dad, gentle parenting places a focus on respecting kids and their needs and abilities.

Key points of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parents recognize their kids’ needs and respond to them appropriately. They understand the importance of setting age-appropriate boundaries for their kids. 

  • Gentle parenting focuses on building strong relationships between parents and their kids. 
  • Unnecessary boundaries are not used for this parenting style. Gentle parents recognize that there are some battles that do not need to be fought with their kids. While they still have boundaries and rules for their kids, they understand the need for their kids to experience freedom.
  • Parents who practice this style encourage open communication with their kids by teaching emotional intelligence and helping their kids recognize their feelings.
  • Gentle parents recognize their kids as people who are capable of making choices and whose opinions matter. For this reason, parents who practice gentle parenting tend to include their kids in decision-making and in boundary-setting.
  • Punishment is not implemented as an effective way to discipline. Instead, gentle parenting allows kids the space to explore negative emotions as a way of getting past them. When discipline is necessary, natural consequences are implemented as teaching tools.
  • Kids of gentle parents are not “overly praised.” Gentle parenting understands the importance of teaching kids that their worth is not dependent on what others think of them. These parents will praise their kid’s effort to accomplish something, instead of the end result. This helps kids understand the importance of working hard, even though their efforts may end in failure at times.

Pros of Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting might be just what you have been missing in your life. There are so many great benefits that are sure to come from practicing this parenting style.

  • Gentle parents are happier and more relaxed than those who practice other parenting styles.
  • Kids of gentle parents have high levels of self-worth. They have grown up feeling loved by their parents and have learned to love themselves.
  • Gentle parents produce kids who have high levels of emotional intelligence. These kids are able to recognize their emotions and are not afraid of them – even the big, uncomfortable feelings.
  • Kids who have gentle parents are less likely to develop eating disorders, engage in risky behaviors and substance abuse, and develop mental and psychological disorders when they are older.
  • In addition to these great benefits, kids who have parents that practice gentle parenting are also more intelligent, empathetic, have higher self-esteem, are more sociable, and are more independent than kids with parents who practice different parenting styles.

With all of these amazing benefits to gentle parenting, it is hard to see a down-side!

Cons of Gentle Parenting

Like all parenting styles, there are some things that parents may find challenging about gentle parenting. 

  • The main downside of this style is that gentle parenting is often very taxing on the parents. There is a lot of self-discipline needed to practice this parenting style, especially in the beginning when good habits are in the process of forming.
  • Another con to gentle parenting is that there is a fine line between this parenting style and aspects of permissive parenting. Because gentle parents are picky about the boundaries they set, this parenting style can easily turn into one with no boundaries.

Still, when parents are willing to invest in creating good habits, everyone can benefit in the long run from gentle parenting.

How To Practice Gentle Parenting

There is so much information about so many different parenting styles out there. How do you know which one is right for you? Here are some general guidelines to get you started on your gentle parenting journey. Remember to start slow and give yourself a lot of grace. Implementing an entirely new parenting style will take time and patience for you and your kids!

  • Remember the four elements of gentle parenting: empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries.
  • Understand the basic brain development of each stage in childhood. This will help you have realistic expectations for babies and toddlers.
  • Consider how your kids are feeling and how those feelings are influencing how they are acting.
  • Practice a variety of self-care habits that will help you to feel more calm and relaxed. Parents who take care of themselves are going to be less prone to yelling and punishments than those who neglect their own needs.
  • Gentle parents still make mistakes. They are far from perfect human beings. When you make a mistake, apologize to your kids if necessary. Then, forgive yourself and try to do better. 
  • Remember that implementing a new parenting style takes time and effort. You cannot expect your kids to respond and you to change within a few days. 

Disciplining Using Gentle Parenting

Every parent will experience the need to discipline their kids at some point. Unpleasant as it may seem, you may find gentle parenting discipline methods to be one of the most desirable and effective methods available!

  • Never focus on punishment. The focus of gentle parenting should always be on respect between the parent and child. For this reason, punishments are not used, although discipline may be necessary at times.
  • Punishments like spanking or shaming kids are never used with gentle parenting. While these methods may provide short-term results, they are unlikely to yield the kind of long-term effects that this parenting style strives for.
  • To effectively discipline using gentle parenting, parents must recognize the things that their kids need to learn and cater the discipline around those things. For example, if a kid needs to learn to be more responsible, gentle parents may provide opportunities for them to learn that skill through helping around the house.
  • Gentle disciplining is focused on not just teaching kids what not to do, but also on what to do. When a kid takes a toy from their sibling, they are taught how to treat their sibling, not just that it is not okay to take toys.
  • Feelings are always acknowledged and valued for gentle parents. Parents help their kids recognize their emotions and allow the space for their kids to feel their emotions, no matter how unpleasant. Parents who practice gentle disciplining teach their kids that all emotions are healthy and normal, but not all behavior is appropriate.
  • Parents who practice this parenting style have expectations for their kids that are clearly explained ahead of time. Occasionally there may be a rule that parents forget to explain to their kids. When a rule like this is broken, gentle parents remain calm and explain the rule to the kid. No disciplining is necessary unless the kid violates the boundary again.

Gentle parenting has so many amazing benefits for parents and for kids. Do you think this parenting style might work for you? 

What do you love about gentle parenting? Tell us about it in the comments below!

For more parenting ideas, check these out!

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