A Beginner’s Guide to Gentle Parenting

gentle parent

Gentle parenting has been an amazing resource for me. It’s taught me to stay calm, lead with compassion, and pick my battles wisely with my children.  The idea is to focus on connecting with my kids while teaching respect and boundaries, without using harsh punishments. This is a simple beginner’s guide to gentle parenting. If you need tools to be a calmer, more gentle parent then keep reading.

Connection is the key to gentle parenting.

Every gentle parenting book you’ll read will constantly emphasize one word – connection. This is the key to all gentle parenting techniques. If you focus on the connection between you and your child they feel more secure and in turn want to please you more. Does that mean if you focus on connection your child will never act out? Of course not, it just means that when they do you’ll be able to lead with compassion and they will feel safe venting to you.

Some mothers think it’s a bad thing that their children only act out around mom, but it’s actually a compliment to you – it means you are their safe place. 

Use Natural Consequences

This is a difficult one to get the hang of. Natural consequences are about using a natural lesson, over a punishment that doesn’t fit the offense. For example, if your child is throwing a toy – take the toy away. If he is hitting his sister, he can’t sit next to her, etc. It works for us and eliminates the confusion of punishments that make no sense to the child.

Gentle discipline is about teaching your child, not shaming them.

Parents should never call their children names or shame them into submission. Obviously as parents, we make mistakes, but we should strive to do better as we learn better. We need to remember that discipline is about teaching our children respect and boundaries, not putting them down and controlling them. I’m not an expert at parenting, all I know is that I feel so much better when I parent my children in a gentle way. I feel more joy when I create boundaries and guide my children to follow them, instead of force and punish their every move.

Be the calm, don’t join the chaos.

This is a great quote for the gentle parenting community. It’s our job as parents to be the calm for our children, not join the chaos. I can remember specific times when my kids would meltdown and I would start yelling or crying along side them. Guess what? It didn’t go well for any of us. What does work well for us, is if I stay calm and focus on extinguishing the fire, instead of fanning the flames.

This is especially true in my home. My boys fall often, because of their disorder and if I run over in a state of panic, they panic too. My younger son especially panics like crazy when he gets hurt. I think it’s due to a hospital trip he had last year. He starts crying and asking if he’s going to be okay. I have to work hard to calm him down (and stay calm myself) and get his heart rate back down. Remember to be the calm, not join the chaos. It’s more important than you think.

View the bad behavior as an unmet or unspoken need.

This helps me a lot when one of my children is having a meltdown. I learn to analyze the behavior and realize that most of the time the meltdown is not about what it appears to be about, but more of an unmet need. My child may be tired, hungry, or scared. If I can pinpoint the why, it’s so much easier for me to be patient and focus on connection instead of getting mad. The same is true with adults too. My mom was in tears one year at Thanksgiving because she thought the turkey was over-done (it wasn’t) but we all knew the tears were really about her first Thanksgiving without her mom.

Gentle parenting is about teaching and guiding, not harsh punishments.

A controversial subject, I know, but we do not spank in our home. I can give you all the reasons why it doesn’t work for us, but I bet I’ll still get some hate for my views. To sum it up, my boys are considered medically fragile so spanking is an obvious no no, but honestly that’s not the only reason we don’t spank. One, it’s a personal conviction. Two, I have a very hard time telling my children to be gentle, then swatting their butt in the same breath. And three, I believe it’s a common misinterpreted reference from the Bible.

The Bible (although some will argue me on this) teaches that discipline or “sparing the rod” is about teaching and correcting, not physical punishment. A Shepard’s job is to guide his sheep and keep them safe. If he strikes the sheep they become fearful and lack trust. Have you ever heard the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child”? Did you know that it’s not actually found in the Bible?  It’s found in a poem from 1662, not scripture. There are however many verses about correction and discipline. The bottom line is for me, God has convicted my heart not to spank my children. I encourage you to pray for your own conviction. This article explains my point well.

Whether you are new to gentle parenting or not, I hope you gained a few tips to help you with the crazy, chaotic and wonderful world of parenting. Good luck!

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