The gentle parenting approach is a positive, supportive, and non-punitive approach to raising children. It’s the opposite of an authoritarian parenting style.
Gentle parenting is a natural outgrowth of loving parenting and effective parenting.
What’s Wrong With Gentle Parenting?
What are the major challenges in gentle parenting?
First, some of the most common problems that arise when parents’ practice gentle parenting are:
1. Being too kind
Gentle parenting is not the same as being a doormat. Gentle parenting is a positive, supportive, and non-punitive approach to raising children.
Being too kind can lead to children who are excessively compliant, overly friendly, and/or unassertive.
This can also lead to overly submissive children who lack the ability to assert themselves.
Different from authoritative parenting, gentle parenting encourages children to take responsibility for their actions and teaches them how to resolve conflicts.
It also allows children to be autonomous and set limits on their own behavior.
2. Neglecting discipline
Many parents feel that gentle parenting doesn’t involve much discipline because it’s not intended to be punitive or cause harm or pain to children.
This can cause children who are lax in following rules and engaging in undesirable behaviors, such as misbehaving in school or breaking other rules of the house.
For example, some parents may simply “let their kids be kids” instead of following through with effective discipline for unwanted behaviors (e.g., disciplining them for throwing food on the floor).
Children can learn that there are no consequences for unwanted behaviors if they’re not allowed to be punished for them (e.g., they don’t get yelled at).
This can lead to undisciplined behavior (e.g., poor school performance) and to a lack of follow-through on rules.
Photo by Katherine McAdoo on Unsplash.
3. Need a strong inner motivation in child
Some parents think that gentle parenting doesn’t require strong inner motivation in children.
However, gentle parenting requires a strong inner motivation in children, as well as an awareness of the consequences of their actions.
Gentle parenting requires that children develop an understanding of the importance of being considerate to others, even when those others are not being polite to them.
Emotional health is also an important component of being a gentle parent. As children mature, they will naturally develop the capacity to feel and express their emotions.
If you don‘t teach your child how to do this, you are setting them up for failure.
Children who have not developed the capacity to manage their emotions may tolerate some harshness, but will struggle when those emotions get out of control.
4. Not modeling the right behavior
Some parents may not realize that they’re inadvertently setting a poor example for their children by showing anger and/or disapproval.
With gentle parenting, your everyday life should reflect your gentle parenting philosophy.
For example, if her child can view a parent yells at her child as proof that it’s okay to yell at other people in real life.
The message that this sends to a child is “behave or else.” In other words, “If you misbehave, you’ll get yelled at.”
This will probably lead to the same behaviors in future situations (e.g. whenever a child spills something on the floor).
5. Not addressing underlying causes of bad behavior
Some parents think that gentle parenting doesn’t require addressing underlying causes of behavior.
This can lead to problems in disciplining children, such as “helicopter parenting” (e.g., hovering over a child).
This can cause an over-controlled child who has a lack of motivation to be independent, or who has a lack of confidence in his or her ability to solve problems on his or her own.
We address the underlying causes of behavior by taking the time to understand the child’s reasons for behaving in certain ways (e.g., why a child misbehaves).
These reasons become clear after working with the child on changing those behaviors that are causing those behaviors (e.g., encouraging more appropriate behavior).
Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash.
Gentle Parents Aren’t Weak Parents
It’s important to recognize that there are many styles of parenting. Each of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses.
Parents need to be aware of the benefits and limitations of each approach, as well as the potential problems that can arise when they apply those approaches in their homes.
However, gentle parenting is an excellent alternative for parents who want to raise children who are respectful and considerate of others.
This will lead to more confident children who have an increased sense of self-worth and self-confidence, as well as children who have better relationships with their parents.
Our blog, The Mindful Parent, dedicates itself to helping parents raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children.
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