Harnessing the Power of Gentle Parenting

In this guest post, Karoline inspires parents to adopt a respectful approach to raising successful and wholesome children. In our home, we practice respectful discipline, and gender-specific toys are adored by our children and highly regarded by us, parents. We acknowledge the great value they carry for their upbringing. Yet I want to point out that parents all over the world have different views and take on whether gender-specific toys are beneficial for their children.

The four ‘classic’ parenting styles are defined as authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Each style has its own approach, ranging from exercising a great amount of control (authoritarian) to being detached from one’s children (uninvolved). Studies indicate that of these four, the style that most leads to good self-esteem, health, and wellness, is that of authoritative parenting. This style involves setting rules but being fair and explaining the reason for them. There is a fifth parenting style, however, that is increasingly holding sway among parents who like to see their relationship with their children as teamwork. It’s called gentle parenting, and it works to create happy, whole, confident children thanks to qualities such as kindness and understanding.

What Are the Four Elements of Gentle Parenting?

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Gentle parenting involves respect, understanding, boundary-setting, and empathy. Like authoritative parenting, it does involve setting rules and relying on age-appropriate discipline so that children grow to be responsible and accountable. Kids are encouraged to express their feelings, and they are taught skills like emotional regulation and assertive communication. They are shown how to handle frustration and other difficult emotions by modeling themselves on the calm, gentle behavior of their parents.

Respecting Your Child

Being a gentle parent begins by respecting children. It also involves supporting children’s interests instead of imposing one’s own on them. For instance, parents may encourage children to play with toys that are not gender designated. These can include building blocks, zoo animals, art materials, puzzles, puppets, wagons, and similar. These toys steer clear of stereotypes created by advertisers and manufacturers. Children select the toys that appeal to their authentic interests and passions, instead of those deemed ‘correct’ by companies and marketing professionals. Respect also involves aiming to speak in a language that strikes a chord with one’s child, and respecting their boundaries. The child is allowed to be themselves, pursue their interests, and express their wants and needs without fear of criticism, shame, or judgment.

The Benefits of Gentle Parenting

Study after study has shown the negative effects that ignoring kids (or hovering over them, ‘tiger-style’) can have. On the contrary, a 2016 study by researchers at Kobe University found that children who receive positive attention and care from their parents tend to be happier, have greater academic success (and higher incomes), and have a stronger sense of morality. Supportive, gentle parenting involves giving children high levels of independence, trust, interest, and time. It is to be contrasted with strict parenting, which grants children a low level of independence and which involves strictness in daily life. It is also very different from indulgent, easygoing, or harsh parenting. Interestingly, children who received high levels of attention combined with strict discipline did grow up to report higher salaries and academic achievement, but greater stress and a lower degree of happiness.

Gentle parenting involves supporting your child throughout their growth and maturity. It has a strong emphasis on support and on working together as part of a team. It involves spending plenty of time with children, showing an interest in them, and allowing them the independence they need to reach their full potential.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.