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Conscious Parenting (also known as Gentle Parenting) is new to many of us, and the early years of navigating this space can be some of the most challenging

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According to Healthline, Conscious parenting is a term used by various psychologists (and others) to describe a style of parenting that usually focuses more on the parent and how mindfulness can drive parenting choices.

It’s rooted in a combination of Eastern-style philosophy and Western-style psychology. (In other words, a bringing together of meditation and self-reflection.)

Put most simply, conscious parenting asks that instead of striving to “fix” your child, parents look inward at themselves. Conscious parenting views children as independent beings (though admittedly still developing over time), who can teach parents to become more self-aware.

In theory? No. The reason I prefer to to use the term Conscious Parenting as opposed to Gentle Parenting is because the word ‘gentle’ often leads parents to become permissive in practice, as opposed to conscious in practice. Being gentle is a part of this parenting style, yes, but it’s not the main focus. The main focus is being conscious of yourself and your triggers so you do not overreact to normal childhood behaviors. The word conscious makes us think. And pausing, thinking, and being present is what facilitates Gentle Parenting. You cannot be a Gentle Parent without being a Conscious Parent.

The goal of any conscious parent is to raise a thoughtful, kind, and self-assured person. It does not create docile kids who do what you say when you say it. Yes, it works. However, I would challenge you to rethink the idea of what “works” means to you.

If you ask your child to do something and they do not do it, then it’s time to step in and help them to accomplish whatever goal you have set. Dr. Ross Greene often says, “Kids do well when they can.” Children do not often say, “I need help. I’m overwhelmed. I’m distracted.” It’s your job to step in and assist them. My 9 year old needs to be walked to the bathroom every night when it’s time to take a bath. Sure, I would love for him to simply go whenever he is asked, but he has shown me that he cannot meet this request without assistance. Yelling is stressful for the both of us, so with a little help we get the job done.

The idea that we must introduce the cruelty of “the world” to our children in order for them to be conditioned to cruelty is dangerous. Children’s brains are growing and developing, they can handle what is developmentally appropriate for them to handle. They will not become stronger by “tough love.” On the contrary, you may create a “shadow-boxer,” someone who is always anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone who is hypervigilant to their own detriment. Children need a safe space from the “world.” And that safe space should be you.

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