What Are The Principles Of Being A Gentle Parent?

Gentle parenting is a mode of parenting that is believed to raise children that are confident and happy.

Gentle parenting is a mode of parenting that is believed to raise children that are confident and happy. There are a number of principles and areas which gentle parenting shines a spotlight on that make it quite different to mainstream parenting.
It is not about always agreeing to your children’s wishes and allowing them to make the decisions but rather using a more gentle approach when it comes to persuasion and explanations. There is no denying the fact that respect is at the core of gentle parenting.
As adults, we tend to demand respect from our children without really considering that this is a learned behaviour. It is very easy to fall into the trap of simply commanding instant respect from the children that we so willingly provide for every single day without considering it as a two-way equal street. We expect our children to always consider our feelings and how hard we work to provide for them yet many of us do so without affording our children the same in return.

Respect is a rather complex word. It involves transcending those strong and overwhelming urges to shout or run away from stress as it meets us. It requires the strength to put our own exhaustion aside and talk to our children about why they are waking up at night so often. It is about paying attention to their tantrums even when we absolutely want to run a mile.
It is about avoiding explanation like “because I said so” and treating our children with the love and compassion that teaches them that they deserve an answer to their questions.
It is how they grow to trust and learn about the world. Respect is not always the easy option but it undoubtedly the route that leads to happy and more confident children.

Empathy plays a rather huge role also. Gentle parents recognise that the best way to raise an empathetic child is to show them empathy. More often than not our natural state is to hone in on our own feelings rather than what can be perceived to be a child who is deliberately trying to upset us. In so many cases a child’s behaviour can be labelled and misunderstood as “bad-behaviour” and “taking advantage”.
We so often jump to conclusions, label our children’s behaviour and fail to consider the real cause. Without searching for the root of the behaviour it is only temporarily extinguished and in the midst of this, the root is never dealt with. The label we have given our children then becomes the one that they accept.

There is room for discipline within gentle parenting but it may be different from what you consider to be normal. Discipline is about teaching and showing our children why certain behaviours are appropriate, helpful and acceptable. It is about keeping things positive, empathetic and respectful while always considering the age of the child to ensure that the words and anecdotes are appropriate.

Gentle parenting is not about being a “yes parent” and allowing your child to have everything that they want. It is about moving away from harsh punishments where children are forced to sit on a certain step or exiled to a certain room. It is about moving away from ignoring and disrespecting our children and instead, showing them respect and empathy even if the behaviour they are displaying is undesirable. It is not easy but it leads to happier and more confident children in the long run.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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