Since babies don’t come with a “how-to” manual (though we really wish they did), people often turn to the internet and books for help in figuring the whole parenting thing out. While there isn’t one golden recipe for parenting your toddler (each family, child and circumstance is unique), how we raise our children greatly impacts how they’ll grow, learn and exist in the world.
There are multiple parenting styles and most people don’t fall neatly into one category. And if you’ve done any research on the topic, you’ve likely heard about gentle parenting. But what is it? And how do you actually do it? We’re covering everything you need to know.
What is gentle parenting?
Gentle parenting (also sometimes referred to as respectful, conscious or positive parenting) is a parenting philosophy that’s gained popularity in the last few years. It’s a holistic approach to parenting that emphasizes empathy, respect and understanding in order to foster a healthy parent-child relationship. Unlike other parenting philosophies that follow a more authoritarian style, gentle parenting is closely aligned with authoritative style and aims to raise and teach children through positive guidance and modeling.
“What all gentle parents have in common is the belief that children are worthy of the same respect we would want for ourselves as adults,” says Lisa Jean-Francois, founder of Consciously Lisa and author of No Right Way: A Beginners Guide to Conscious Parenting. “We don’t hit, yell, threaten, shame or punish. We do, however, hold firm boundaries, respect our children and model the behavior we’d like to see them exhibit.”
Some of the key beliefs of gentle parenting include:
All behavior is a form of communication. Instead of viewing challenging toddler behavior as something that needs to be corrected or punished, gentle parents try to understand the underlying needs or emotions behind the behavior. A helpful tip to keep in mind: your toddler isn’t giving you a hard time, they’re having a hard time.
Parents are encouraged to set healthy, age-appropriate boundaries and expectations for behavior, while still respecting their child’s individuality. They deal with challenging behavior by using positive discipline techniques like redirection, positive reinforcement and problem-solving, rather than punishments like time-outs or spanking.
Another important aspect of gentle parenting is the emphasis on the parent-child relationship. It recognizes the crucial role of attachment and connection in a child’s development. By nurturing a secure and loving relationship with your toddler, you’ll be able to create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable and confident.
Benefits of Gentle Parenting
Gentle parenting requires a lot of patience and self-regulation (which can be really hard when you’ve got a toddler throwing a tantrum). But the good news is, there are plenty of benefits that make practicing it beneficial to both you and your toddler.
Promotes the development of essential life skills. By involving toddlers in decision-making processes and allowing them to have a say in matters that affect them, they’re encouraged to think critically and problem-solve. This active involvement also encourages the development of independence and self-confidence from an early age. And these skills will benefit them beyond childhood by serving as the foundation for their future selves.
Creates a positive and respectful family dynamic. Instead of resorting to punitive and harsh discipline, gentle parenting uses