I call it ‘Gentle Parenting’ because it’s popular enough by now for most people to recognize what it is. Although ‘Gentle Parenting’ to me is also ‘Conscious Parenting,’ I’d even consider it an awakened type of parenting where you are exercising re-parenting yourself and creating a new generation. It’s not an all permissive, let-them-do-what-they-want, kids-taking-advantage-of-parents strategy. It is actually quite narrow-minded to not attempt even an understanding of Gentle Parenting.
Gentle Parenting focuses on deep beliefs that:
A. Children are extremely emotional beings. These emotions are NOT personal. They are not manipulating you.
B. Children are to be treated the way you’d want to be treated.
C. You have a responsibility to guide them through emotions. Explain, name and allow the process of feelings and emotions. Lack of language and understanding of what they feel can translate into all sorts of different behaviors – some that are less than desirable. The less desirable ones should be guided and accepted with gentleness and no shame.
D. What triggers you is a gift. Your trigger is what you need to work through.
E. Explain both the rights and wrongs. Praise a child for much more than being a “good boy” or a “good girl.” and explain to a child what they did wrong with much more than “no!” or “go to your room.”
Gentle Parenting is molding your child into a secure, confident and self-loving human being 20 years from now.
Calming a tantrum or screaming or shaming or punishing for the convenience of the next 20 minutes of your life, will most likely not provide tools for the next 20 years. Here’s an example: If someone yelled at you, right now, “NO!” you would be shocked, you would question it, and maybe you’d stop, but then you’d probably rebel. Anything that is not backed up by explanation and nurture is testable. When parents say, “my child is testing me,” you’re probably right – but they’re also probably not testing YOU, they are just testing…life, mechanisms, laws of gravity, and more.
Gentle Parenting doesn’t mean that you’re the perfect parent and that you won’t “screw” your child up.
We are all part of our own cycle from our parents, their parents and so on…and perhaps, come one day, where you realize a lot of repressed feelings you have were not backed up with much reasoning, and there you are, testing. It can go multiple ways, sometimes one of them is NOT becoming your parent. As much as we love them and they’ve done their best, for most of us, it is okay to want to break a pattern.
For instance, my father is a gentle parent with clear boundaries and my mother was a permissive/screamer. The limitations that I suffer today and still have to work on with multiple layers in my life is astonishing. Did someone screaming at me make me stronger? take less risk? listen more? NO. Absolutely not. BUT, in between of the occasional screaming, she trusted me and offered me loyalty to always grant me my independence and never treated me like a “kid.” Mind you, my mother lost a child, my brother. Which is only when her behavior changed, and rightfully so. While our trauma with grief and shift of her behavior was very hard to understand, I do wish we had communicated more about these things; that communication would’ve been vital tools for my healing that I eventually had to seek on my own.
I often hear people say “I didn’t have gentle parents, they screamed and punished me and I’m not screwed up at all.”
And yet, they have highly anxious love languages and can’t attract or maintain a healthy relationship. The complex relationships we have with our parents are the first relationships we ever get to experience. The tools provided during the first years play a gigantic role in handling all of our future relationships with others and ourselves. We all have healing to do, all on different levels and all with different consciousness/awareness of how much we need to work on and how much we want to work on!
Gentle Parenting is communicating with your child, never doubting that they are too beneath you to understand.
I sometimes get a lot of snarky messages from mothers saying “yeah…well, that doesn’t work with my child.” I’ve even received the “my child is evil, I just spank him.” Well, spanking would definitely not make me nicer either!
Believing that your child behaves a certain way because there is a lack can be very difficult for certain egos to understand. The lack can be completely situational, like the arrival of a new baby or even a parent working from home all of a sudden! Which, with this pandemic, I’m sure some of us are experiencing. The lack doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, it just means that there’s listening and observation to do. Either way, you are doing a wonderful job and that should be your core belief.
Gentle Parenting is staying calm.
When a behavior is triggering you, you are their guide: What do they need? What are they expressing?
Are they annoying you? Ask yourself why. Are they slamming the table with their hands? Ask to hold them. Are they throwing a ball in the living room like they want to be Michael Jordan? Ask them to kick it like Beckham. Do they not want you to speak over them while they are crying? Wait it out and be present with them. Do they need a hug and pressure on their arms to regulate? Did you explain why you don’t want them to do something? Did you refrain from screaming or saying NO without explaining? There’s so many little things that we can do that are very nurturing and also set clear boundaries.
Remember to ask questions, to thank them, to praise them for exactly what they did.
“You pronounced ball! That’s amazing.”
“You recognized the color blue! Great job!”
“You stopped hitting mommy because it’s ouchy, thank you. You’re so gentle.”
Also, here’s a helpful post on how to handle tantrums, gently and understanding why the word ‘No’ will not be at your service.